Brightness analysis of fluorescence fluctuation experiments has been used to successfully measure the oligomeric state of proteins at the plasma membrane, in the nucleoplasm, and in the cytoplasm of living cells. Here we extend brightness analysis to the nuclear envelope (NE), a double membrane barrier separating the cytoplasm from the nucleoplasm. Results obtained by applying conventional brightness analysis to fluorescently tagged proteins within the NE exhibited an unusual concentration dependence. Similarly, the autocorrelation function of the fluorescence fluctuations exhibited unexpected changes with protein concentration. These observations motivated the application of mean-segmented Q analysis, which identified the existence of a fluctuation process distinct from molecular diffusion in the NE. We propose that small changes in the separation of the inner and outer nuclear membrane are responsible for the additional fluctuation process, as suggested by results obtained for luminal and nuclear membrane-associated EGFP-tagged proteins. Finally, we applied these insights to study the oligomerization of the luminal domains of two nuclear membrane proteins, nesprin-2 and SUN2, which interact transluminally to form a nuclear envelope-spanning linker molecular bridge known as the linker of the nucleoskeleton and cytoskeleton complex.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) (GM064589 to J.D.M. and AR007612 to C.A.S.) and the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation (to G.W.G.L. and J.D.M.).