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Long Unfolded Linkers Facilitate Membrane Protein Import Through the Nuclear Pore Complex

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Science  09 Jun 2011:
1205741
DOI: 10.1126/science.1205741

Abstract

Active nuclear import of soluble cargo involves transport factors that shuttle cargo through the nuclear pore complex (NPC) by binding to phenylalanine-glycine (FG) domains. How nuclear membrane proteins cross through the NPC to reach the inner membrane is presently unclear. Here, we found that at least a 120-residue-long intrinsically disordered linker was required for the import of membrane proteins carrying a nuclear localization signal for the transport factor karyopherin-α. We propose an import mechanism for membrane proteins in which an unfolded linker slices through the NPC scaffold to enable binding between the transport factor and the FG domains in the centre of the NPC.