Nuclear envelope assembly was studied in vitro using extracts from Xenopus eggs. Nuclear-specific vesicles bound to demembranated sperm chromatin but did not fuse in the absence of cytosol. Addition of cytosol stimulated vesicle fusion, pore complex assembly, and eventual nuclear envelope growth. Vesicle binding and fusion were assayed by light and electron microscopy. Addition of ATP and GTP to bound vesicles caused limited vesicle fusion, but enclosure of the chromatin was not observed. This result suggested that nondialyzable soluble components were required for nuclear vesicle fusion. GTP gamma S and guanylyl imidodiphosphate significantly inhibited vesicle fusion but had no effect on vesicle binding to chromatin. Preincubation of membranes with 1 mM GTP gamma S or GTP did not impair vesicle binding or fusion when assayed with fresh cytosol. However, preincubation of membranes with GTP gamma S plus cytosol caused irreversible inhibition of fusion. The soluble factor mediating the inhibition by GTP gamma S, which we named GTP-dependent soluble factor (GSF), was titratable and was depleted from cytosol by incubation with excess membranes plus GTP gamma S, suggesting a stoichiometric interaction between GSF and a membrane component in the presence of GTP gamma S. In preliminary experiments, cytosol depleted of GSF remained active for fusion of chromatin-bound vesicles, suggesting that GSF may not be required for the fusion reaction itself. We propose that GTP hydrolysis is required at a step before the fusion of nuclear vesicles.

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