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Characterizing Binding Interactions That Are Essential for Selective Transport through the Nuclear Pore Complex


Specific macromolecules are rapidly transported across the nuclear envelope via the nuclear pore complex (NPC). The selective transport process is facilitated when nuclear transport receptors (NTRs) weakly and transiently bind to intrinsically disordered constituents of the NPC, FG Nups. These two types of proteins help maintain the selective NPC barrier. To interrogate their binding interactions in vitro, we deployed an NPC barrier mimic. We created the stationary phase by covalently attaching fragments of a yeast FG Nup called Nsp1 to glass coverslips. We used a tunable mobile phase containing NTR, nuclear transport factor 2 (NTF2). In the stationary phase, three main factors affected binding: the number of FG repeats, the charge of fragments, and the fragment density. We also identified three main factors affecting binding in the mobile phase: the avidity of the NTF2 variant for Nsp1, the presence of nonspecific proteins, and the presence of additional NTRs. We used both experimentally determined binding parameters and molecular dynamics simulations of Nsp1FG fragments to create an agent-based model. The results suggest that NTF2 binding is negatively cooperative and dependent on the density of Nsp1FG molecules. Our results demonstrate the strengths of combining experimental and physical modeling approaches to study NPC-mediated transport.

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