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EMBO J. 2009 Sep 2;28(17):2554-67. doi: 10.1038/emboj.2009.199. Epub 2009 Aug 13.

FG/FxFG as well as GLFG repeats form a selective permeability barrier with self-healing properties.

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Max-Planck-Institut für Biophysikalische Chemie, Am Fassberg, Göttingen, Germany.


The permeability barrier of nuclear pore complexes (NPCs) controls all nucleo-cytoplasmic exchange. It is freely permeable for small molecules. Objects larger than approximately 30 kDa can efficiently cross this barrier only when bound to nuclear transport receptors (NTRs) that confer translocation-promoting properties. We had shown earlier that the permeability barrier can be reconstituted in the form of a saturated FG/FxFG repeat hydrogel. We now show that GLFG repeats, the other major FG repeat type, can also form highly selective hydrogels. While supporting massive, reversible importin-mediated cargo influx, FG/FxFG, GLFG or mixed hydrogels remained firm barriers towards inert objects that lacked nuclear transport signals. This indicates that FG hydrogels immediately reseal behind a translocating species and thus possess 'self-healing' properties. NTRs not only left the barrier intact, they even tightened it against passive influx, pointing to a role for NTRs in establishing and maintaining the permeability barrier of NPCs.

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