The maintenance of nuclear compartmentalization by the nuclear envelope and nuclear pore complexes (NPCs) is essential for cell function; loss of compartmentalization is associated with cancers, laminopathies, and aging. We uncovered a pathway that surveils NPC assembly intermediates to promote the formation of functional NPCs. Surveillance is mediated by Heh2, a member of the LEM (Lap2-emerin-MAN1) family of integral inner nuclear membrane proteins, which binds to an early NPC assembly intermediate, but not to mature NPCs. Heh2 recruits the endosomal sorting complex required for transport (ESCRT)-III subunit Snf7 and the AAA-ATPase Vps4 to destabilize and clear defective NPC assembly intermediates. When surveillance or clearance is compromised, malformed NPCs accumulate in a storage of improperly assembled nuclear pore complexes compartment, or SINC. The SINC is retained in old mothers to prevent loss of daughter lifespan, highlighting a continuum of mechanisms to ensure nuclear compartmentalization.
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