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How Do Cells Build and Maintain Nuclei?

EM image of the yeast nucleus [left] and illustration depicting both the spindle pole body and nuclear pore complex.

Nuclei are the defining feature of eukaryotic cells and are formed by a double lipid bilayer referred to as the nuclear envelope. The outer nuclear membrane is contiguous with the endoplasmic reticulum while the inner nuclear membrane is believed to contain a distinct set of proteins and lipids. Inner nuclear membrane components such as lamins and SUN and LEM domain-containing proteins play structural and regulatory roles within the nucleus to maintain nuclear shape, modulate nuclear-cytoplasmic transport and control gene expression.

 

The nuclear envelope is a dynamic structure that undergoes changes during development and differentiation and in mitosis.  Nuclear envelope composition and structure are also altered in diseased or dying cells. For decades, changes in nuclear shape have been used as a tool to diagnose many cancers; yet nuclear morphology changes are essential to the development of cells such as neutrophils.

 

We currently use various fungal systems as model eukaryotes to explore these topics and answer other long-standing questions in nuclear envelope biology:

 

  • What is the composition of the inner nuclear membrane and how does it change under different conditions? 
  • How are proteins transported to the inner nuclear membrane? How are unfolded or non-functional inner nuclear membrane proteins removed?
  • How do cells remodel their nuclear envelope during mitosis to allow for efficient formation of a bipolar mitotic spindle?  How does a cell choose an open or closed mitosis?
  • How is nuclear autonomy achieved in a multinucleated cell?

 

We use a combination of genetic, molecular, cytological and biochemical approaches to address these questions.  State-of-the-art core facilities and research advisors at the Stowers Institute are an integral part of our multi-disciplinary research. It is our long-term goal to understand the composition and function of inner nuclear membrane components.  This will address basic questions of nuclear biology and, importantly, elucidate how mutations in nuclear proteins lead to age-associated changes in the nuclear envelope and to diseases such as progeria and cancer.


Strain and Plasmid Requests

Instructions on ordering any of our published reagents, and how to avoid a long wait times. Standard delivery is normally 2 - 3 weeks.

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Research Highlights

Summaries of recent peer-reviewed research, scientific collaboration, and scholarly publications from the Jaspersen Lab!

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