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Sitting on the nuclear envelope, nuclear pore complexes (NPCs) control the molecular transport between the nucleus and the cytoplasm. Without definite open or close states, the NPC uses a family of intrinsically disordered nucleoporins called FG-Nups to construct a selective permeability barrier whose functional structure is unclear. Experimental advances have offered high-resolution molecular knowledge of the NPC scaffold and docking of the unfolded FG-Nups, however, the 'hairy' barrier structure still appears as blurred lobes even under the state-of-the-art microscopy. Without accurate experimental visualization, the molecular mechanism for the NPC-mediated transport remains a matter of debate. Modeling provides an alternative way to resolve this long-standing mystery. Here, we briefly review different methods employed in modeling the FG-Nups, arranging from all-atom molecular dynamics to mean-field theories. We discuss the advantage and limit of each modeling technique, and summarize the theoretical insights that, despite certain controversy, deepened our understanding of the hairy pore. © 2020 The Author(s). Published by Portland Press Limited on behalf of the Biochemical Society.


Kai Huang, Igal Szleifer. Modeling the nucleoporins that form the hairy pores. Biochemical Society transactions. 2020 Aug 28;48(4):1447-1461

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PMID: 32794558

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