Nuclear Pore Complex Structure and Dynamics Revealed by Cryoelectron Tomography

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Science  19 Nov 2004:
Vol. 306, Issue 5700, pp. 1387-1390
DOI: 10.1126/science.1104808

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Nuclear pore complexes (NPCs) are gateways for nucleocytoplasmic exchange. To analyze their structure in a close-to-life state, we studied transport-active, intact nuclei from Dictyostelium discoideum by means of cryoelectron tomography. Subvolumes of the tomograms containing individual NPCs were extracted in silico and subjected to three-dimensional classification and averaging, whereby distinct structural states were observed. The central plug/transporter (CP/T) was variable in volume and could occupy different positions along the nucleocytoplasmic axis, which supports the notion that it essentially represents cargo in transit. Changes in the position of the CP/T were accompanied by structural rearrangements in the NPC scaffold.

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