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J Cell Sci. 1994 Dec;107 ( Pt 12):3259-69.

Weaving a pattern from disparate threads: lamin function in nuclear assembly and DNA replication.

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Department of Biological Sciences, The University, Dundee, UK.


The major residual structure that remains associated with the nuclear envelope following extraction of isolated nuclei or oocyte germinal vesicles with non-ionic detergents, nucleases and high salt is the lamina (Fawcett, 1966; Aaronson and Blobel, 1975; Dwyer and Blobel, 1976). The nuclear lamina is composed of intermediate filament proteins, termed lamins (Gerace and Blobel, 1980; Shelton et al., 1980), which polymerise to form a basket-weave lattice of fibrils, which covers the entire inner surface of the nuclear envelope and interlinks nuclear pores (Aebi et al., 1986; Stewart and Whytock, 1988; Goldberg and Allen, 1992). At mitosis, the nuclear envelope and the lamina both break down to allow chromosome segregation. As a consequence, each structure has to be rebuilt during anaphase and telophase, allowing cells an opportunity to reposition chromosomes (Heslop-Harrison and Bennett, 1990) and to reorganise looped chromatin domains (Franke, 1974; Franke et al., 1981; Hochstrasser et al., 1986), which may in turn control the use of subsets of genes. Because of the position that it occupies, its dynamics during mitosis and the fact that it is an essential component of proliferating cells, the lamina has been assigned a number of putative roles both in nuclear metabolism and in nuclear envelope assembly (Burke and Gerace, 1986; Nigg, 1989). However, to date there is little clear cut evidence that satisfactorily explains the function of the lamina in relation to its structure. In this Commentary we will describe some of the recent work that addresses this problem and attempt to provide a unified model for the role of lamins in nuclear envelope assembly and for the lamina in the initiation of DNA replication.

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