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Institute of Advanced Study

Dr Ajay Singh Panwar

COFUND Senior Research Fellow at Ustinov College (July - September 2016)

Panwar has an emerging worldwide reputation in the modelling and simulation of soft matter

Understanding selective transport through the nuclear-pore complex

A unique example of highly selective transport in eukaryotic organisms is the nuclear pore complex (NPC), which regulates the transport of cargo between the cell nucleus and cytoplasm. The NPC is a self-assembled super-structure embedded on the nuclear membrane (internal diameter ≈30–50 nm) having a high throughput (about 1 kg material is transported across all NPCs in the human body/second) while maintaining a tight control, sometimes blocking smaller proteins but allowing larger RNA-protein complexes. With the lack of high-resolution imaging techniques at nanometer scale to discern the conformation of natively unfolded polypeptides that line the inner walls of the NPC, the mechanism that allows for such simultaneous high throughput and tight control of transport in these systems is not yet understood.

The aim of this project is to develop such a mechanistic understanding using coarse-grained models of NPC that are amenable to computer simulations and theoretical calculations. The models will be used to investigate the long-time behaviour and organization of polypeptides within the NPC, the interaction of macromolecular cargo as it passes through pore, and various transport regimes which may depend on cargo-pore interactions. The project will lead to high impact publications and a grant proposal via Indo-UK research councils.