Now a team of investigators from the Salk Institute for Biological Studies has illuminated key differences in the mechanisms behind nuclear pores formed at two distinct stages in the cell cycle. Their findings, to be published in the June 12 issue of Cell, may provide insights into conditions such as cancer, developmental defects, and sudden cardiac arrest.
Nuclear pores, which are built from 30 different proteins, assemble during interphase, the period when the nucleus expands and replicates its DNA, and following mitosis, when the nuclear membrane reforms around the segregated chromosomes to create two identical nuclei.
But, explains Martin Hetzer, Ph.D., Hearst Endowment associate professor in Salk's Molecular and Cell Biology Laboratory, who led the study, there has been a longstanding question about whether assembly pathways at the distinct cell cycle stages use different or similar mechanisms. "Interphase assembly is different from post-mitotic assembly in that the nuclear membrane is fully formed around chromatin," he says, "whereas post-mitotic assembly occurs into the reforming nuclear membrane. So the topology of the nuclear membrane is very different during these two cell cycle stages."
While some aspects of post-mitotic assembly were known, almost nothing was understood about how assembly of the pores occurs during interphase, when the cell doubles the number of nuclear pores to provide sufficient levels of NPC components for the two daughter cells. A parallel process takes place during differentiation of an oocyte, when millions of nuclear pore components are integrated into the nuclear membrane of the egg cell, so any findings about interphase assembly could also be relevant to embryonic development.
"We were able to show for the first time that there are two distinct mechanisms behind how these large protein complexes assemble to accommodate cell cycle-dependent differences in nuclear membrane topology," says Hetzer.
The team identified a key difference in how the Nup107/160 complex, which is essential for NPC formation, is targeted to new assembly sites in the NE. Surprisingly, one of the complex members, Nup133, is directed to the pore assembly site via a completely novel mechanism that involves sensing of the nuclear membrane's curvature. "The sensor was identified in a bioinformatics screen, and it was not known whether it was really functional in vivo," says co-first author Christine Doucet, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow in Hetzer's lab. "But we thought it would fit in with the topology of the nuclear membrane and the sites of the new nuclear pore complexes because they are highly curved. So if the sensor was playing a role in assembly, it was a really neat way to coordinate the assembly of all the components at the right position and the right time."
The second difference the group discovered is that in post-mitotic assembly, but not during interphase, a protein called ELYS played a key role in directing the NUP107/160 complex, which is critical to the formation of pores, to the assembly sites. In contrast, the transmembrane Nup POM121, is specifically required for interphase assembly.POM121 is the earliest known protein at pore assembly sites yet how it is directed there is still under investigation.
"We knew both proteins were essential for pore assembly in different ways, but we didn't know how," says co-first author Jessica Talamas, also a postdoctoral fellow in Hetzer's lab. "There was a discrepancy in the literature about POM121, so we were trying to figure out what was going on. It was one of those lightbulb moments, we were looking at the data and realized that POM121 was only required for interphase assembly, and then everything just made sense."
Because these processes are at work in every cell that divides, the study is especially germane to one of the big questions in the field: how the number of nuclear pores is regulated. It's a question with multiple ramifications. Nuclear pore numbers are misregulated in cancer cells, for example, so the findings have applications in cancer research. In addition, because neurons require a large number of nuclear pores, evidence is mounting that defects in nuclear pore assembly are linked to developmental defects in the central nervous system. Assembly defects during development have also been implicated in conditions such as sudden cardiac arrest.
"In establishing differences between the two assembly pathways, the findings have provided the first glimpse of a mechanistic understanding," Hetzer says.
This study was supported by a grant from the National Institutes of Health.About the Salk Institute for Biological Studies:
Faculty achievements have been recognized with numerous honors, including Nobel Prizes and memberships in the National Academy of Sciences. Founded in 1960 by polio vaccine pioneer Jonas Salk, M.D., the Institute is an independent nonprofit organization and architectural landmark.
Gina Kirchweger | Newswise Science News
One step closer to reality
20.04.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Entwicklungsbiologie
The dark side of cichlid fish: from cannibal to caregiver
20.04.2018 | Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien
University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.
Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.
Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.
Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...
Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.
The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...
Stable joint cartilage can be produced from adult stem cells originating from bone marrow. This is made possible by inducing specific molecular processes occurring during embryonic cartilage formation, as researchers from the University and University Hospital of Basel report in the scientific journal PNAS.
Certain mesenchymal stem/stromal cells from the bone marrow of adults are considered extremely promising for skeletal tissue regeneration. These adult stem...
In the fight against cancer, scientists are developing new drugs to hit tumor cells at so far unused weak points. Such a “sore spot” is the protein complex...
13.04.2018 | Event News
12.04.2018 | Event News
09.04.2018 | Event News
20.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
20.04.2018 | Interdisciplinary Research
20.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy