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Published July 2011 | public
Journal Article

The Structure of the Nuclear Pore Complex


In eukaryotic cells, the spatial segregation of replication and transcription in the nucleus and translation in the cytoplasm imposes the requirement of transporting thousands of macromolecules between these two compartments. Nuclear pore complexes (NPCs) are the sole gateways that facilitate this macromolecular exchange across the nuclear envelope with the help of soluble transport receptors. Whereas the mobile transport machinery is reasonably well understood at the atomic level, a commensurate structural characterization of the NPC has only begun in the past few years. Here, we describe the recent progress toward the elucidation of the atomic structure of the NPC, highlight emerging concepts of its underlying architecture, and discuss key outstanding questions and challenges. The applied structure determination as well as the described design principles of the NPC may serve as paradigms for other macromolecular assemblies.

Additional Information

© 2011 Annual Reviews. Review in Advance first posted online on April 12, 2011. (Changes may still occur before final publication online and in print.) We thank Kuo-Chiang Hsia, Jana Mitchell, Vivien Nagy, Alina Patke, Tobias Reichenbach, Hyuk-Soo Seo, Pete Stavropoulos, and Deniz Top for discussions and comments on the manuscript, and Stephanie Etherton for help with editing the manuscript. E.W.D. is the Dale F. and Betty Ann Frey Fellow of the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation, DRG-1977-08, and A.H. was supported by a SCOR grant from the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and by a V Scholar Award from the V Foundation for Cancer Research. We apologize in advance to those investigators whose work was inadvertently overlooked or could not be included due to space restrictions.

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