Nuclear envelopathies--raising the nuclear veil

Pediatr Res. 2005 May;57(5 Pt 2):8R-15R. doi: 10.1203/01.PDR.0000159566.54287.6C. Epub 2005 Apr 6.


The nuclear envelope separates the chromosomes from cytoplasm in eukaryotic cells and consists of three main domains: inner and outer nuclear membranes and nuclear pore complexes. The inner nuclear membrane maintains close associations with the underlying chromatin and nuclear lamina. For many years, the nuclear envelope was thought to function mainly as an architectural stabilizer of the nucleus, participating in assembly and disassembly processes during mitosis. However, recent findings demonstrate that nuclear envelope proteins are involved in fundamental nuclear functions, such as gene transcription and DNA replication, and that inherited or de novo mutated proteins cause human diseases, termed "nuclear envelopathies." These findings emphasize the importance of understanding the functions of this cellular domain, in both physiologic and pathologic states. To date, mutations in the genes encoding the nuclear envelope proteins emerin, MAN1, lamin A/C, and lamin B receptor were found to cause nuclear envelopathies. The diseases that are caused by mutations in LMNA gene are collectively called "laminopathies." Nuclear envelopathies have diverse clinical phenotypes, ranging from cardiac and skeletal myopathies to partial lipodystrophy, peripheral neuropathy, and premature aging. This raises the question of how do such ubiquitously expressed proteins give rise to tissue-specific disease phenotypes. One possible explanation is the involvement of nuclear envelope proteins in the regulation of gene transcription, a novel mechanism that has been the focus of research in our lab in recent years. In this review, we describe recent discoveries in the field of nuclear envelopathies and discuss current proposed pathophysiological mechanisms underlying these diseases.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism
  • Cell Nucleus / pathology*
  • Chromatin / metabolism
  • Chromosomes, Human, X
  • DNA / metabolism
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mitosis
  • Models, Biological
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / pathology*
  • Mutation
  • Nuclear Envelope / metabolism*
  • Nuclear Lamina / metabolism
  • Nuclear Lamina / pathology*
  • Phenotype
  • Transcription, Genetic


  • Chromatin
  • DNA