Research in the News: DNA’s security system described by researchers

Defective nuclear pore complexes (red) are restricted from being inherited by daughter cells demonstrating a quality control pathway during nuclear pore complex biogenesis.

As befitting life’s blueprint, DNA is surrounded by an elaborate security system that assures crucial information is imparted without error.

The security is provided by a double membrane perforated by protein channels that block unwanted material from entering the nucleus and promote entry of key messengers. The breakdown of these channels, called nuclear pore complexes (NPCs), is associated with some forms of cancer and with aging.

In a new study appearing in the Oct. 9 issue of the journal Cell, Yale researchers Brant Webster, Patrick Lusk, and colleagues describe a key quality control mechanism that protects new cells from inheriting defective NPCs.  In the accompanying movie, defective NPCs are sequestered into a specialized compartment (colored red) that is retained in the mother cell, while each daughter inherits functional NPCs. “It is important to understand how these gatekeepers, which are fundamental to cellular function, are built and maintained,” Lusk said.

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Bill Hathaway: william.hathaway@yale.edu, 203-432-1322