Dendrimer-assisted patch-clamp sizing of nuclear pores
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Macromolecular translocation (MMT) across the nuclear envelope (NE) occurs exclusively through the nuclear pore complex (NPC). Therefore, the diameter of the NPC aqueous/electrolytic channel (NPCC) is important for cellular structure and function. The NPCC diameter was previously determined to be ≅10 nm with electron microscopy (EM) using the translocation of colloidal gold particles. Here we present patch-clamp and fluorescence microscopy data from adult cardiomyocyte nuclei that demonstrate the use of patch-clamp for assessing NPCC diameter. Fluorescence microscopy with B-phycoerythrin (BPE, 240 kDa) conjugated to a nuclear localization signal (NLS) demonstrated that these nuclei were competent for NPC-mediated MMT (NPC-MMT). Furthermore, when exposed to an appropriate cell lysate, the nuclei expressed enhanced green fluorescence protein (EGFP) after 5–10 h of incubation with the plasmid for this protein (pEGFP, 3.1 MDa). Nucleus-attached patch-clamp showed that colloidal gold particles were not useful probes; they modified NPCC gating. As a result of this finding, we searched for an inert class of particles that could be used without irreversibly affecting NPCC gating and found that fluorescently labeled Starburst dendrimers, a distinct class of polymers, were useful. Our patch-clamp and fluorescence microscopy data with calibrated dendrimers indicate that the cardiomyocyte NPCC diameter varies between 8 and 9 nm. These studies open a new direction in the investigation of live, continuous NPC dynamics under physiological conditions.
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