Nuclear pore complexes (NPCs) perforate the nuclear envelope and serve as the primary transport gates for molecular exchange between nucleus and cytoplasm. Stripping the megadalton complex down to its most essential organizational elements, one can divide the NPC into scaffold components and the disordered elements attached to them that generate a selective barrier between compartments. These structural elements exhibit flexibility, which may hold a clue in understanding NPC assembly and function. Here we review the current status of NPC research with a focus on the functional implications of its structural and compositional heterogeneity.
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