Time sequence of nuclear pore formation in phytohemagglutinin-stimulated lymphocytes and in HeLa cells during the cell cycle

Gerd G. Maul, Temple University School of Medicine
Helmut M. Maul, Temple University School of Medicine
Joseph E. Scogna, Temple University School of Medicine
Michael W. Lieberman, National Institutes of Health
Gary S. Stein, University of Massachusetts Medical School
Betty Y. Hsu, Temple University School of Medicine
Thaddeus W. Borun, Temple University School of Medicine


The time sequence of nuclear pore frequency changes was determined for phytohemagglutinin (PHA)-stimulated human lymphocytes and for HeLa S-3 cells during the cell cycle. The number of nuclear pores/nucleus was calculated from the experimentally determined values of nuclear pores/micro(2) and the nuclear surface. In the lymphocyte system the number of pores/nucleus approximately doubles during the 48 hr after PHA stimulation. The increase in pore frequency is biphasic and the first increase seems to be related to an increase in the rate of protein synthesis. The second increase in pores/nucleus appears to be correlated with the onset of DNA synthesis. In the HeLa cell system, we could also observe a biphasic change in pore formation. Nuclear pores are formed at the highest rate during the first hour after mitosis. A second increase in the rate of pore formation corresponds in time with an increase in the rate of nuclear acidic protein synthesis shortly before S phase. The total number of nuclear pores in HeLa cells doubles from approximately 2000 in G(1) to approximately 4000 at the end of the cell cycle. The doubling of the nuclear volume and the number of nuclear pores might be correlated to the doubling of DNA content. Another correspondence with the nuclear pore number in S phase is found in the number of simultaneously replicating replication sites. This number may be fortuitous but leads to the rather speculative possibility that the nuclear pore might be the site of initiation and/or replication of DNA as well as the site of nucleocytoplasmic exchange. That is, the nuclear pore complex may have multiple functions.