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Nucleus. 2010 Nov-Dec;1(6):475-80. doi: 10.4161/nucl.1.6.13112. Epub 2010 Jul 22.

Permeating the nuclear pore complex.

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  • 1Department of Biological Chemistry, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel.


The extensive and multifaceted traffic between nucleus and cytoplasm is handled by a single type of macromolecular assembly called the nuclear pore complex (NPC). While being readily accessible to ions and metabolites, the NPC imposes stringent selectivity on the passage of proteins and RNA, tightly regulating their traffic between the two major cellular compartments. Here we discuss how shuttling carriers, which mediate the transport of macromolecules through NPCs, cross its permeability barrier. We also discuss the co-existence of receptor-mediated macromolecular transport with the passive diffusion of small molecules in the context of the various models suggested for the permeability barrier of the NPC. Finally, we speculate on how nuclear transport receptors negotiate the dependence of their NPC-permeating abilities on hydrophobic interactions with the necessity of avoiding these promiscuous interactions in the cytoplasm and nucleus.


facilitated transport; hydrophobicity; nuclear pore complex; nuclear transport receptors; passive transport; selectivity

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