Considerations in the isolation of rat liver nuclear matrix, nuclear envelope, and pore complex lamina

Scott H. Kaufmann, Donald S. Coffey, Joel H. Shaper

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188 Scopus citations


A number of recent studies have demonstrated a salt-, nuclease, and detergent-resistant subnuclear structure termed the nuclear protein matrix which consists of a fibrogranular intranuclear network, residual components of the nucleolus, and a peripheral lamina. Other workers, however, have shown that somewhat similar methods result in the isolation of the peripheral lamina devoid of the intranuclear components. In this report we demonstrate that seemingly slight changes in the isolation procedure cause major changes in the morphology of the residual structures obtained. When freshly purified rat liver nuclei were digested with DNase I and RNase A and then extracted with buffers of low magnesium ion concentration (LS buffer) and high ionic strength (HS buffer), the resulting structures isolated prior to or after Triton X-100 extraction lacked the extensive intranuclear network and the easily identifiable residual nucleoli present in the nuclear protein matrix. Systematic modification of this extraction procedure revealed that morphologically identifiable residual nucleoli were present when digestion with RNase A followed extraction with HS buffer but were absent when the order of these steps was reversed. The removal of the nucleolus by RNase A and HS buffer correlated with the removal of nuclear RNA by the same treatments. These coordinate events could not be prevented by treatment with protease inhibitors but were prevented by treatment of the RNase A with diethylpyrocarbonate, an RNase inhibitor. The extensive intranuclear network seen in the nuclear protein matrix was sparse or absent when residual structures were prepared from DNase- and RNase-treated nuclei under conditions which minimized the oxidation of protein sulfhydryl groups. In contrast, an extensive non-chromatin intranuclear network was seen if the formation of intermolecular protein disulfide bonds was promoted by extraction of nuclei with cationic detergents, by overnight incubation, or by treatment with oxidizing agents like sodium tetrathionate prior to nuclease digestion and subsequent extraction. By varying the order of extraction steps and the extent of disulfide cross-linking, it is possible to isolate from a single batch of nuclei residual structures with a wide range of morphologies and compositions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)105-123
Number of pages19
JournalExperimental cell research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1981

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology


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