Non-membranous HeLa cell nuclear ghosts, representing non-membranous nuclear envelope or ‘skeletal’ components, have been examined in whole-mount fashion by transmission electron microscopy. Major components of the ghosts include annuli with inner and outer diameters of 43 and 90 nm, respectively, which are consistent in dimensions with nuclear pore complexes. Also present are rod-like images (260 nm in length and 50 nm in width or diameter) representing either previously unobserved nuclear structures, or condensations of repeating functional units not otherwise observable. The annular and rod-like images were also observed when various steps in the ghost isolation procedure, such as the use of detergents, 0.5 M MgCl2 and polylysine attachment of the ghosts to electron-microscope grids, were circumvented. The annular and rod-like images are connected into linear and polygonal arrays by strands (15-30 nm in width) that are sensitive to DNase I and DNase II but resistant to nuclease S1. Thus, although the non-membranous ghosts from HeLa cells are composed primarily of protein, enzymic dissection indicates that their gross integrity is markedly dependent on double-stranded DNA. Nuclear ghosts prepared from a wide range of species including mammals, birds and plants, exhibited essentially the same components and organization.

This content is only available via PDF.