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Global motions of the nuclear pore complex: insights from elastic network models.

  • Author(s): Lezon, Timothy R;
  • Sali, Andrej;
  • Bahar, Ivet
  • et al.
Abstract

The nuclear pore complex (NPC) is the gate to the nucleus. Recent determination of the configuration of proteins in the yeast NPC at approximately 5 nm resolution permits us to study the NPC global dynamics using coarse-grained structural models. We investigate these large-scale motions by using an extended elastic network model (ENM) formalism applied to several coarse-grained representations of the NPC. Two types of collective motions (global modes) are predicted by the ENMs to be intrinsically favored by the NPC architecture: global bending and extension/contraction from circular to elliptical shapes. These motions are shown to be robust against tested variations in the representation of the NPC, and are largely captured by a simple model of a toroid with axially varying mass density. We demonstrate that spoke multiplicity significantly affects the accessible number of symmetric low-energy modes of motion; the NPC-like toroidal structures composed of 8 spokes have access to highly cooperative symmetric motions that are inaccessible to toroids composed of 7 or 9 spokes. The analysis reveals modes of motion that may facilitate macromolecular transport through the NPC, consistent with previous experimental observations.

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