Mapping the dynamic organization of the nuclear pore complex inside single living cells

Nat Cell Biol. 2004 Nov;6(11):1114-21. doi: 10.1038/ncb1184. Epub 2004 Oct 24.


Most cellular activities are executed by multi-protein complexes that form the basic functional modules of their molecular machinery. Proteomic approaches can provide an evermore detailed picture of their composition, but do not reveal how these machines are organized dynamically to accomplish their biological function. Here, we present a method to determine the dissociation rates of protein subunits from complexes that have a traceable localization inside single living cells. As a case study, we systematically analysed the dynamic organization of vertebrate nuclear pore complexes (NPCs), large supramolecular complexes of about 30 different polypeptides. NPC components exhibited a wide range of residence times covering five orders of magnitude from seconds to days. We found the central parts of the NPC to be very stable, consistent with a function as a structural scaffold, whereas more peripheral components exhibited more dynamic behaviour, suggesting adaptor as well as regulatory functions. The presented strategy can be applied to many multi-protein complexes and will help to characterize the dynamic behaviour of complex networks of proteins in live cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cells, Cultured
  • Kinetics
  • Nuclear Pore / ultrastructure*
  • Plasmids
  • Proteome


  • Proteome