Nuclear pore scaffold structure analyzed by super-resolution microscopy and particle averaging

Science. 2013 Aug 9;341(6146):655-8. doi: 10.1126/science.1240672. Epub 2013 Jul 11.


Much of life's essential molecular machinery consists of large protein assemblies that currently pose challenges for structure determination. A prominent example is the nuclear pore complex (NPC), for which the organization of its individual components remains unknown. By combining stochastic super-resolution microscopy, to directly resolve the ringlike structure of the NPC, with single particle averaging, to use information from thousands of pores, we determined the average positions of fluorescent molecular labels in the NPC with a precision well below 1 nanometer. Applying this approach systematically to the largest building block of the NPC, the Nup107-160 subcomplex, we assessed the structure of the NPC scaffold. Thus, light microscopy can be used to study the molecular organization of large protein complexes in situ in whole cells.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Fluorescent Dyes / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Microscopy / methods*
  • Microscopy, Confocal / methods
  • Nanoparticles / chemistry
  • Nuclear Matrix / ultrastructure*
  • Nuclear Pore / ultrastructure*
  • Nuclear Pore Complex Proteins / chemistry*
  • Nuclear Pore Complex Proteins / immunology
  • Particle Size
  • Single-Domain Antibodies / chemistry


  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Nuclear Pore Complex Proteins
  • Single-Domain Antibodies