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Science. 2004 Nov 19;306(5700):1387-90. Epub 2004 Oct 28.

Nuclear pore complex structure and dynamics revealed by cryoelectron tomography.

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Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry, D-82152 Martinsried, Germany.


Nuclear pore complexes (NPCs) are gateways for nucleocytoplasmic exchange. To analyze their structure in a close-to-life state, we studied transport-active, intact nuclei from Dictyostelium discoideum by means of cryoelectron tomography. Subvolumes of the tomograms containing individual NPCs were extracted in silico and subjected to three-dimensional classification and averaging, whereby distinct structural states were observed. The central plug/transporter (CP/T) was variable in volume and could occupy different positions along the nucleocytoplasmic axis, which supports the notion that it essentially represents cargo in transit. Changes in the position of the CP/T were accompanied by structural rearrangements in the NPC scaffold.

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