Functional architecture of the nuclear pore complex

Annu Rev Biophys. 2012;41:557-84. doi: 10.1146/annurev-biophys-050511-102328.


The nuclear pore complex (NPC) is the sole gateway between the nucleus and the cytoplasm. NPCs fuse the inner and outer nuclear membranes to form aqueous translocation channels that allow the free diffusion of small molecules and ions, as well as receptor-mediated transport of large macromolecules. The NPC regulates nucleocytoplasmic transport of macromolecules, utilizing soluble receptors that identify and present cargo to the NPC, in a highly selective manner to maintain cellular functions. The NPC is composed of multiple copies of approximately 30 different proteins, termed nucleoporins, which assemble to form one of the largest multiprotein assemblies in the cell. In this review, we address structural and functional aspects of this fundamental cellular machinery.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Active Transport, Cell Nucleus
  • Animals
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism
  • Cytoplasm / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Nuclear Envelope / metabolism
  • Nuclear Pore / chemistry*
  • Nuclear Pore / metabolism*
  • Nuclear Pore / ultrastructure
  • Nuclear Pore Complex Proteins / chemistry
  • Nuclear Pore Complex Proteins / metabolism*
  • Protein Transport


  • Nuclear Pore Complex Proteins