Nuclear pore complexes (NPCs) span the inner and outer membranes of the nuclear envelope and mediate transport between the nucleus and cytoplasm. In recent years, however, NPCs and the proteins that form them, known as nucleoporins, have also been linked to nuclear events including chromatin organization and gene expression, and to physiological processes such as differentiation and aging. Two papers now define the function of individual nucleoporins in mouse muscle differentiation (1) and budding yeast lifespan (2).

NPCs are composed of z30 different nucleoporins. In 2012, Martin Hetzer and colleagues at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California, discovered that one particular nucleoporin, gp210/Nup210, is required for both neuronal and muscle differentiation. Myoblasts lacking Nup210, for example, undergo apoptosis instead of fusing together to form multinucleate myotubes (3).

To investigate how gp210/Nup210 promotes muscle differentiation, Hetzer and...

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