On the Role of the Channel Nucleoporins in Nuclear Transport
The nuclear pore complex (NPC) facilitates transport of a large diversity of cargoes, including proteins, mRNA protein complexes, and ribosomal subunits. Three of its proteins line the central transport channel: Nup58, Nup54, and Nup62. These channel nups are essential to achieve significant transport rates through the NPC. Recently, several x-ray structures of the channel nups have been determined. Furthermore, a cryo-electron tomography structure of the NPC was determined, and the x-ray structures were docked into the electron microscopy map, yielding a composite structure of the NPC. These advances provide insight into the organization of the channel nups in the NPC transport channel, the FG-repeat permeability barrier, and the mechanism of active transport. They provide a foundation to investigate in the future whether the NPC scaffold is static, and merely serves to provide anchorage sites for FG-repeat domains, or whether multiple structural conformations of the NPC scaffold are formed. It will also be important to investigate how the presence of FG-repeats, which make up a significant portion of the NPC mass, and their interactions with transport receptors modulate the NPC scaffold and how this affects nuclear transport rates. It also needs to be established how distinct physiological states, such as cell proliferation, developmental stages, cell quiescence, cancer, or viral infections, modulate the structure and composition of the NPC transport channel to adjust transport rates to cellular demands.
I thank Günter Blobel, as well as his trainees Ivo Melcak, Junseock Koh, and Bartlomiej Blus (HHMI at The Rockefeller University) for critical reading of the manuscript. Sadly, my dear mentor and friend Günter Blobel passed away on February 18, 2018. Words cannot express how much I miss his enthusiasm, vision, brilliance, generosity and impeccable scholarship. I would like to dedicate my book chapter to his memory and to the great scientific discussions we had. Furthermore, I would like to thank Rachael Behler, Kyle Loftus and Ayesha Siddiqua (Binghamton University), for helpful comments. We thank the Research Foundation of the State University of New York and the Department of Chemistry, State University of New York at Binghamton for funding.
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