The nuclear lamina consists of a proteinaceous layer or meshwork situated subjacent to the inner nuclear membrane. It is a karyoskeletal structure formed by a polymer containing one to three major polypeptides collectively termed the lamins. In all cells examined of vertebrates and invertebrates, the lamins exhibit very similar Mr ranging from 60 000 to 80 000. In vertebrates, two groups of lamins can be distinguished by their isoelectric value, one being near-neutral and the other acidic (isoelectric pH values of 5.6 and lower). The lamins represent a family of polypeptides with regions highly conserved during evolution. In certain species, e.g., the amphibian, Xenopus laevis, they exhibit cell type-specific expression during embryonic development, terminal differentiation of certain somatic cells, and gametogenesis. The nuclear lamina of diverse cell types can be composed of one, two or three different lamin polypeptides, without obvious differences in its morphology.