J Cell Sci 127 (4): 908-921.
Nuclear pore complexes (NPCs) are the gateways for nucleocytoplasmic exchange. The ordered assembly of these huge complexes from several hundred individual components into an intricate protein interaction network which deforms the two membranes of the nuclear envelope into a pore is only rudimentarily understood. Here, we show that the interaction between Nup53 and the integral pore membrane protein Ndc1 is essential for vertebrate NPC assembly. The Ndc1 binding site on Nup53 overlaps with a region that induces membrane bending and is specifically required to modulate this activity, suggesting that the membrane-deforming capability of Nup53 is adjusted during the NPC assembly process. We further demonstrate that the interaction of Nup53 and Nup155 has a crucial role in NPC formation as the main determinant of recruitment of Nup155 to the assembling pore. Overall, our results pinpoint the diversity of interaction modes accomplished by Nup53, highlighting this protein as an essential link between the pore membrane and the NPC, and as a crucial factor in the formation of the pore membrane.