Nuclear pore complexes exceeding eightfold rotational symmetry

J Struct Biol. 2003 Mar;141(3):259-68. doi: 10.1016/s1047-8477(02)00626-3.


Nuclear pore complexes are rotationally symmetric structures that span the nuclear envelope and provide channels for nucleocytoplasmic traffic. These large complexes normally consist of eight spokes arranged around a central channel, although, occasionally, 9- and 10-fold nuclear pore complexes are found in preparations of Xenopus oocyte macronuclei. Here we examine these unusual nuclear pore complexes by negative stain electron microscopy and image analysis and compare the results with data previously obtained from 8-fold structures. The details in two-dimensional and three-dimensional maps indicate that the substructure of the spoke is the same in 8-, 9- and 10-fold nuclear pore complexes: therefore, the spoke is likely an immutable structural component. In all three variant forms, the spacing between adjacent annular subunits, which surround the central channel, is identical. Distances between spokes at higher radius decrease in the 9- and 10-fold nuclear pore complexes. These data imply that the most important connections holding the nuclear pore complex together are those between adjacent annular subunits and that these interactions may play a predominant role in nuclear pore complex assembly. Circumferential connections mediated by ring subunits and radial arms presumably further stabilize the structure and are flexible enough to accommodate additional spokes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism
  • Electrophoresis, Gel, Two-Dimensional
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Nuclear Pore / metabolism*
  • Nuclear Pore / ultrastructure*
  • Oocytes / metabolism
  • Xenopus