Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Research identifies 3-D structure of key nuclear pore building block

09.06.2009
Similar architecture of an essential nuclear pore complex module and cell¡¯s vesicle coats supports common evolutionary origin

The genome of complex organisms is stashed away inside each cell's nucleus, a little like a sovereign shielded from the threatening world outside. The genome cannot govern from its protective chamber, however, without knowing what's going on in the realm beyond and having the ability to project power there.

Guarding access to the nuclear chamber is the job of large, intimidating gatekeepers known as nuclear pore complexes (NPCs), which stud the nuclear membrane, filtering all of the biochemical information passing in or out. In new research, scientists have for the first time glimpsed in three dimensions an entire subcomplex of the NPC; it's the key building block of this little understood and evolutionarily ancient structure, an innovation fundamental to the development of nearly all multicellular life on earth.

The findings, by Martin Kampmann, a graduate student in John D. Rockefeller Jr. Professor G¨¹nter Blobel's Laboratory of Cell Biology, add details to an unfolding picture of cellular evolution that shows a common architecture for the NPC and the vehicles that transport material between different parts of the cell, called coated vesicles. As early as 1980, Blobel proposed that internal membranes of cells ¨C such as those encompassing the nucleus and vesicles ¨C evolved from folds or invaginations of the outer cell membrane. Rockefeller scientists Brian Chait and Michael Rout suggested in a 2004 paper in PLoS Biology that both the NPC and vesicle coats, which contain similar protein folds, evolved from ancient membrane-coating proteins that stabilized these primordial internal membranes.

"So far, it's been unclear how these ancient folds work in the nuclear pore complex", Kampmann says. "Now we can see that the ¦Á-solenoid folds form long, flexible arms and hinges that end in the more compact, globular ¦Â-propellers. The same architectural principle is found in clathrin, a common component of vesicle coats."

In research to be published online Sunday in Nature Structural & Molecular Biology, Kampmann isolated and purified samples of the most fundamental building block of the NPC known as the Nup84 complex, which is composed of seven proteins. The entire NPC ¨C enormous by molecular standards ¨C consists of 30 different kinds of proteins. Focusing on the Nup84 complex, Kampmann used an electron microscope (EM) to take thousands of images of the complex in different states or conformations, which could reflect a role in the expansion and contraction thought to facilitate the passage of various sized molecules through the NPC. By computationally averaging these many different views, he reconstructed the first three-dimensional models of the Nup84 complex. Finally, based on prior work in the Blobel lab using X-ray crystallography to determine the exact atomic structure of individual proteins in the Nup84 complex, he plugged these proteins snugly into the EM structure.

"Because the nuclear pore complex is probably too big and flexible to determine its entire atomic structure by X-ray crystallography, I think this three-dimensional EM approach could be a big help in solving the whole thing," Kampmann says. "It allows us to put the crystal structures that we do have in context." Kampmann is applying the EM approach to other subunits in hopes of fleshing out the overall picture of one of the most mysterious machines in molecular biology. "Martin's data represent an important advance toward piecing together the structure of the NPC," Blobel says.

Given the central role of the nuclear pore complex in the most basic cell processes, defects in its assembly, structure and function can have lethal consequences. Its proteins have been associated with viral infection, primary biliary cirrhosis and cancer. An understanding of how the complex works could lead to treatments for these diseases, and also reveal the evolutionary coup that led to the gene-protecting structure found in every cell more complicated than the simplest single-celled microorganisms: the nucleus.

Brett Norman | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.rockefeller.edu

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time
17.10.2017 | University of Maryland

nachricht Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging
17.10.2017 | American Association for the Advancement of Science

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Ocean atmosphere rife with microbes

17.10.2017 | Life Sciences

Neutrons observe vitamin B6-dependent enzyme activity useful for drug development

17.10.2017 | Life Sciences

NASA finds newly formed tropical storm lan over open waters

17.10.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>