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J Cell Sci. 2012 Feb 1;125(Pt 3):570-5. doi: 10.1242/jcs.098822.

Super-resolution imaging visualizes the eightfold symmetry of gp210 proteins around the nuclear pore complex and resolves the central channel with nanometer resolution.

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Department of Biotechnology and Biophysics, Biozentrum, Julius Maximilians University Würzburg, Am Hubland, 97074 Würzburg, Germany.


One of the most complex molecular machines of cells is the nuclear pore complex (NPC), which controls all trafficking of molecules in and out of the nucleus. Because of their importance for cellular processes such as gene expression and cytoskeleton organization, the structure of NPCs has been studied extensively during the last few decades, mainly by electron microscopy. We have used super-resolution imaging by direct stochastic optical reconstruction microscopy (dSTORM) to investigate the structure of NPCs in isolated Xenopus laevis oocyte nuclear envelopes, with a lateral resolution of ~15 nm. By generating accumulated super-resolved images of hundreds of NPCs we determined the diameter of the central NPC channel to be 41 ± 7 nm and demonstrate that the integral membrane protein gp210 is distributed in an eightfold radial symmetry. Two-color dSTORM experiments emphasize the highly symmetric NPCs as ideal model structures to control the quality of corrections to chromatic aberration and to test the capability and reliability of super-resolution imaging methods.

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