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Summary

Nuclear pore complexes (NPCs) are extremely elaborate structures that mediate the bidirectional movement of macromolecules between the nucleus and cytoplasm. With a mass of about 125 MDa, NPCs are thought to be composed of 50 or more distinct protein subunits, each present in multiple copies. During mitosis in higher cells the nuclear envelope is disassembled and its components, including NPC subunits, are dispersed throughout the mitotic cytoplasm. At the end of mitosis, all of these components are reutilized. Using both conventional and digital confocal immunofluorescence microscopy we have been able to define a time course of post-mitotic assembly for a group of NPC components (CAN/Nup214, Nup153, POM121, p62 and Tpr) relative to the integral nuclear membrane protein LAP2 and the NPC membrane glycoprotein gp210. Nup153, a component of the nuclear basket, associates with chromatin towards the end of anaphase, in parallel with the inner nuclear membrane protein, LAP2. However, immunogold labeling suggests that the initial Nup153 chromatin association is membrane-independent. Assembly of the remaining proteins follows that of the nuclear membranes and occurs in the sequence POM121, p62, CAN/Nup214 and gp210/Tpr. Since p62 remains as a complex with three other NPC proteins (p58, 54, 45) during mitosis and CAN/Nup214 maintains a similar interaction with its partner, Nup84, the relative timing of assembly of these additional four proteins may also be inferred. These observations suggest that there is a sequential association of NPC proteins with chromosomes during nuclear envelope reformation and the recruitment of at least eight of these precedes that of gp210. These findings support a model in which it is POM121 rather than gp210 that defines initial membrane-associated NPC assembly intermediates.