Wiggly Proteins Guard the Genome
Published:22 May2023    Source:Max-Planck-Gesellschaft

 Tiny pores in the cell nucleus play an essential role for healthy aging by protecting and preserving the genetic material. A team in Germany has literally filled a hole in the understanding of the structure and function of these nuclear pores. The scientists found out how intrinsically disordered proteins in the center of the pore can form a spaghetti-like mobile barrier that is permeable for important cellular factors but blocks viruses or other pathogens.


They used modern precision tools to mark several points of the spaghetti-like proteins with fluorescent dyes that we excite by light and visualize in the microscope. Based on the glow patterns and duration, they were able to deduce how the proteins must be arranged. They then used molecular dynamics simulations to calculate how the IDPs are spatially organized in the pore, how they interact with each other and how they move. For the first time, scientists could visualize the gate to the control center of human cells.


Understanding how the pores transport or block cargo will help us identify errors. Because some viruses manage to enter the cell nucleus despite the barrier. By learning how IDPs function, researchers aim to develop new drugs or vaccines that prevent viral infections and help healthy aging.