The nuclear pore complex and nuclear transport.
Internal membrane bound structures sequester all genetic material in eukaryotic cells. The most prominent of these structures is the nucleus, which is bounded by a double membrane termed the nuclear envelope (NE). Though this NE separates the nucleoplasm and genetic material within the nucleus from the surrounding cytoplasm, it is studded throughout with portals called nuclear pore complexes (NPCs). The NPC is a highly selective, bidirectional transporter for a tremendous range of protein and ribonucleoprotein cargoes. All the while the NPC must prevent the passage of nonspecific macromolecules, yet allow the free diffusion of water, sugars, and ions. These many types of nuclear transport are regulated at multiple stages, and the NPC carries binding sites for many of the proteins that modulate and modify the cargoes as they pass across the NE. Assembly, maintenance, and repair of the NPC must somehow occur while maintaining the integrity of the NE. Finally, the NPC appears to be an anchor for localization of many nuclear processes, including gene activation and cell cycle regulation. All these requirements demonstrate the complex design of the NPC and the integral role it plays in key cellular processes.