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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Brownian dynamics simulation of nucleocytoplasmic transport: a coarse-grained model for the functional state of the nuclear pore complex.

  • Author(s): Moussavi-Baygi, Ruhollah
  • Jamali, Yousef
  • Karimi, Reza
  • Mofrad, Mohammad
  • et al.

The nuclear pore complex (NPC) regulates molecular traffic across the nuclear envelope (NE). Selective transport happens on the order of milliseconds and the length scale of tens of nanometers; however, the transport mechanism remains elusive. Central to the transport process is the hydrophobic interactions between karyopherins (kaps) and Phe-Gly (FG) repeat domains. Taking into account the polymeric nature of FG-repeats grafted on the elastic structure of the NPC, and the kap-FG hydrophobic affinity, we have established a coarse-grained model of the NPC structure that mimics nucleocytoplasmic transport. To establish a foundation for future works, the methodology and biophysical rationale behind the model is explained in details. The model predicts that the first-passage time of a 15 nm cargo-complex is about 2.6±0.13 ms with an inverse Gaussian distribution for statistically adequate number of independent Brownian dynamics simulations. Moreover, the cargo-complex is primarily attached to the channel wall where it interacts with the FG-layer as it passes through the central channel. The kap-FG hydrophobic interaction is highly dynamic and fast, which ensures an efficient translocation through the NPC. Further, almost all eight hydrophobic binding spots on kap-β are occupied simultaneously during transport. Finally, as opposed to intact NPCs, cytoplasmic filaments-deficient NPCs show a high degree of permeability to inert cargos, implying the defining role of cytoplasmic filaments in the selectivity barrier.

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