Shaping the endoplasmic reticulum into the nuclear envelope

J Cell Sci. 2008 Jan 15;121(Pt 2):137-42. doi: 10.1242/jcs.005777.


The nuclear envelope (NE), a double membrane enclosing the nucleus of eukaryotic cells, controls the flow of information between the nucleoplasm and the cytoplasm and provides a scaffold for the organization of chromatin and the cytoskeleton. In dividing metazoan cells, the NE breaks down at the onset of mitosis and then reforms around segregated chromosomes to generate the daughter nuclei. Recent data from intact cells and cell-free nuclear assembly systems suggest that the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is the source of membrane for NE assembly. At the end of mitosis, ER membrane tubules are targeted to chromatin via tubule ends and reorganized into flat nuclear membrane sheets by specific DNA-binding membrane proteins. In contrast to previous models, which proposed vesicle fusion to be the principal mechanism of NE formation, these new studies suggest that the nuclear membrane forms by the chromatin-mediated reshaping of the ER.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Cell Nucleus / physiology*
  • Chromatin / metabolism
  • Cytoplasm / metabolism
  • Cytoskeleton / metabolism
  • DNA / metabolism
  • Endoplasmic Reticulum / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Mitosis
  • Models, Biological
  • Nuclear Envelope / physiology*
  • Protein Binding


  • Chromatin
  • DNA