We have examined the structure of the nuclear envelope of oocytes of Xenopus laevis by electronmicroscopy of metal-shadowed specimens. Material was prepared by either freeze-drying ora rapid protocol using air-drying after dehydration in ethanol followed by amyl acetate. These methods emphasized different aspects of the structure and enabled an integrated view of the arrangement of nuclear pore complexes, nuclear lamina and pore-connecting fibrils to be assembled. In specimens prepared by either air drying or freeze-drying, the lamina meshwork beneath the nuclear face of the envelope was well preserved, but the fine structure of the nuclearpores was superior in freeze-dried preparations. Both methods also showed pore-connecting fibrils that were clearly not components of the lamina. By using stereo pairs, we established criteria for recognizing the cytoplasmic and nucleoplasmic faces of shadowed nuclear envelopes. These views also enabled us to identify the levels atwhich different fibrous components were attached to the pores. In particular, we were able to visualize the nuclear lamina fibres and poreconnecting fibrils simultaneously and show that they attach to the pore complexes at different levels. We supplemented this work by using arange of treatments to disrupt the nuclear envelopes lightly and gained several insights into this structure as a result. Sometimes pore complexes and their connecting fibrils were stripped from the envelope. This enabled a clearer view of these connections to be obtained without the lamina present. Moreover, in some conditions, the nuclearpore complexes and fibrous lamina began to disintegrate, there by showing some of the morphological components from which they were assembled.

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