The nuclear envelope (NE) of amphibian oocytes can be readily isolated in relatively structurally intact and pure form and has been used extensively for structural studies. Using high resolution scanning electron microscopy (HRSEM), both surfaces of the NE can be visualized in detail. Here, we demonstrate the use of HRSEM to obtain high resolution information of NE structure, confirming previous data and providing some new information. NEs, manually isolated from Triturus cristatus oocytes, have been mounted on conductive silicon chips, fixed, critical point dried and coated with a thin, continuous film of chromium or tantalum and viewed at relatively high accelerating voltage in a field emission scanning electron microscope with the sample within the objective lens. Both nucleoplasmic and cytoplasmic surfaces of the nuclear pore complexes (NPC) have been visualized, revealing the cytoplasmic coaxial ring, associated particles, central plug/transporter and spokes. The nucleoplasmic face is dominated by the previously described basketlike structure attached to the nucleoplasmic coaxial ring. In Triturus, a novel, highly regular flat sheet of fibers, termed the NE lattice (NEL) has been observed attached to the distal ring of the NPC basket. The NEL appears to be distinct from the nuclear lamina. Evidence for the NEL is also presented in thin TEM sections from Triturus oocytes and GVs and in spread NEs from Xenopus. A model is presented for NEL structure and its interaction with the NPCs is discussed.

This content is only available as a PDF.