The molecular architecture of lamins in somatic cells

Nature. 2017 Mar 9;543(7644):261-264. doi: 10.1038/nature21382. Epub 2017 Mar 1.


The nuclear lamina is a fundamental constituent of metazoan nuclei. It is composed mainly of lamins, which are intermediate filament proteins that assemble into a filamentous meshwork, bridging the nuclear envelope and chromatin. Besides providing structural stability to the nucleus, the lamina is involved in many nuclear activities, including chromatin organization, transcription and replication. However, the structural organization of the nuclear lamina is poorly understood. Here we use cryo-electron tomography to obtain a detailed view of the organization of the lamin meshwork within the lamina. Data analysis of individual lamin filaments resolves a globular-decorated fibre appearance and shows that A- and B-type lamins assemble into tetrameric filaments of 3.5 nm thickness. Thus, lamins exhibit a structure that is remarkably different from the other canonical cytoskeletal elements. Our findings define the architecture of the nuclear lamin meshworks at molecular resolution, providing insights into their role in scaffolding the nuclear lamina.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chromatin / chemistry
  • Chromatin / genetics
  • Chromatin / metabolism
  • Chromatin / ultrastructure
  • Cryoelectron Microscopy
  • Cytoskeleton / chemistry
  • Cytoskeleton / metabolism
  • Cytoskeleton / ultrastructure
  • Humans
  • Intermediate Filament Proteins / chemistry
  • Intermediate Filament Proteins / metabolism
  • Intermediate Filament Proteins / ultrastructure
  • Lamins / chemistry*
  • Lamins / metabolism
  • Lamins / ultrastructure*
  • Mice
  • Nuclear Lamina / chemistry*
  • Nuclear Lamina / metabolism
  • Nuclear Lamina / ultrastructure*
  • Tomography


  • Chromatin
  • Intermediate Filament Proteins
  • Lamins