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Biophys J. 2009 Oct 7;97(7):1891-7. doi: 10.1016/j.bpj.2009.07.024.

Formation of the nuclear envelope permeability barrier studied by sequential photoswitching and flux analysis.

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European Molecular Biology Laboratory, Cell Biology and Biophysics Unit, Heidelberg, Germany.


In higher eukaryotes, the nuclear envelope breaks down during mitosis. It reforms during telophase, and nuclear import is reestablished within <10 min after anaphase onset. It is widely assumed that import functionality simultaneously leads to the exclusion of bulk cytoplasmic proteins. However, nuclear pore complex assembly is not fully completed when import capacity is regained, which raises the question of whether the transport and permeability barrier functions of the nuclear envelope are indeed coupled. In this study, we therefore analyzed the reestablishment of the permeability barrier of the nuclear envelope after mitosis in living cells by monitoring the flux of the reversibly photoswitchable fluorescent protein Dronpa from the cytoplasm into the nucleus after photoactivation. We performed many consecutive flux measurements in the same cell to directly monitor changes in nuclear envelope permeability. Our measurements at different time points after mitosis in individual cells show that contrary to the general view and despite the rapid reestablishment of facilitated nuclear import, the nuclear envelope remains relatively permeable for passive diffusion for the first 2 h after mitosis. Our data demonstrate that reformation of the permeability barrier of nuclear pore complexes occurs only gradually and is uncoupled from regaining active import functionality.

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