110 Megadalton structure
30 Nucleoproteins Nups
Nuclear pore complexes (NPCs) are 110-megadalton assemblies that mediate nucleocytoplasmic transport. NPCs are built from multiple copies of ~30 different nucleoporins, and understanding how these nucleoporins assemble into the NPC scaffold imposes a formidable challenge. Recently, it has been shown how the Y complex, a prominent NPC module, forms the outer rings of the nuclear pore. However, the organization of the inner ring has remained unknown until now. We used molecular modeling combined with cross-linking mass spectrometry and cryo-electron tomography to obtain a composite structure of the inner ring. This architectural map explains the vast majority of the electron density of the scaffold. We conclude that despite obvious differences in morphology and composition, the higher-order structure of the inner and outer rings is unexpectedly similar.
The nuclear pore complex (NPC) controls the transport of macromolecules between the nucleus and cytoplasm, but its molecular architecture has thus far remained poorly defined. We biochemically reconstituted NPC core protomers and elucidated the underlying protein-protein interaction network. Flexible linker sequences, rather than interactions between the structured core scaffold nucleoporins, mediate the assembly of the inner ring complex and its attachment to the NPC coat. X-ray crystallographic analysis of these scaffold nucleoporins revealed the molecular details of their interactions with the flexible linker sequences and enabled construction of full-length atomic structures. By docking these structures into the cryoelectron tomographic reconstruction of the intact human NPC and validating their placement with our nucleoporin interactome, we built a composite structure of the NPC symmetric core that contains ~320,000 residues and accounts for ~56 megadaltons of the NPC’s structured mass. Our approach provides a paradigm for the structure determination of similarly complex macromolecular assemblies.