To reconcile the observed selectivity and the high rate of translocation of cargo-importin complexes through nuclear pores, we propose that the core of the nuclear pore complex is blocked by a metastable network of phenylalanine and glycine nucleoporins. Although the network arrests the unfacilitated passage of objects larger than its mesh size, cargo-importin complexes act as catalysts that reduce the free energy barrier between the cross-linked and the dissociated states of the Nups, and open the network. Using Brownian dynamics simulations we calculate the distribution of passage times through the network for inert particles and cargo-importin complexes of different sizes and discuss the implications of our results for experiments on translocation of proteins through the nuclear pore complex.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by a grant from the Israel Science Foundation. T.K. acknowledges financial support from the Coleman-Soref foundation.