Nuclear Pore Complex Protein Sequences Determine Overall Copolymer Brush Structure and Function

D Ando and R Zandi and YW Kim and M Colvin and M Rexach and A Gopinathan, BIOPHYSICAL JOURNAL, 106, 1997-2007 (2014).

DOI: 10.1016/j.bpj.2014.03.021

The transport of cargo across the nuclear membrane is highly selective and accomplished by a poorly understood mechanism involving hundreds of nucleoporins lining the inside of the nuclear pore complex (NPC). Currently, there is no clear picture of the overall structure formed by this collection of proteins within the pore, primarily due to their disordered nature. We perform coarse-grained simulations of both individual nucleoporins and grafted rings of nups mimicking the in vivo geometry of the NPC and supplement this with polymer brush modeling. Our results indicate that different regions or blocks of an individual NPC protein can have distinctly different forms of disorder and that this property appears to be a conserved functional feature. Furthermore, this block structure at the individual protein level is critical to the formation of a unique higher-order polymer brush architecture that can exist in distinct morphologies depending on the effective interaction energy between the phenylalanine glycine (FG) domains of different nups. Because the interactions between FG domains may be modulated by certain forms of transport factors, our results indicate that transitions between brush morphologies could play an important role in regulating transport across the NPC, suggesting novel forms of gated transport across membrane pores with wide biomimetic applicability.

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