Extracts from Xenopus eggs capable of nuclear envelope assembly in vitro were fractionated by differential and density gradient centrifugation. Nuclear envelope assembly was found to require soluble components in the cytosol and two distinct particulate fractions, which we have called nuclear envelope precursor fractions A and B (NEP-A and NEP-B). Both NEP-A and NEP-B are sensitive to treatments with trypsin, sodium carbonate, and detergents, but can be distinguished from each other by their sensitivities to high salt and N-ethylmaleimide and by their levels of alpha-glucosidase activity. Vesicles in NEP-B bind to chromatin, whereas those in NEP-A do not. NEP-B may therefore be involved in the targeting of membranes to the surface of the chromatin, whereas NEP-A may provide a pool of vesicles that contributes many of the nuclear envelope membranes. NEP-B may also play a role in the assembly of nuclear pore complexes because the density of nuclear pores in the resulting envelope is dependent on the ratio of NEP-B to NEP-A in the reconstituted extract.

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