At the core of a cell is its nucleus, containing all of the cell’s genetic code. As you might expect, this blueprint for life is heavily protected by strong membrane walls. To ensure that it continues to receive key supplies from outside this barrier, the nucleus is gated by an intricate array of proteins called a nuclear pore complex. Scientists have recently mapped out how the 552 pieces of this pore fit together. The resulting almost hallucinogenic animation gives them an insight into the complex architecture of life. Like with any feat of engineering, the team found that the portal contains sturdy diagonal columns and cables to connect them, providing strength and flexibility. With this map, comes a better understanding of how a cell protects its inner workings and insight into how diseases like cancer interfere with the portal’s structure and function.
Written by Gaëlle Coullon
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.