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Eukaryotic Cell


Geisel School of Medicine


Proper functioning of intracellular membranes is critical for many cellular processes. A key feature of membranes is their ability to adapt to changes in environmental conditions by adjusting their composition so as to maintain constant biophysical proper- ties, including fluidity and flexibility. Similar changes in the biophysical properties of membranes likely occur when intracellular processes, such as vesicle formation and fusion, require dramatic changes in membrane curvature. Similar modifications must also be made when nuclear pore complexes (NPCs) are constructed within the existing nuclear membrane, as occurs during in- terphase in all eukaryotes. Here we report on the role of the essential nuclear envelope/endoplasmic reticulum (NE/ER) protein Brl1 in regulating the membrane composition of the NE/ER. We show that Brl1 and two other proteins characterized previous- ly—Brr6, which is closely related to Brl1, and Apq12—function together and are required for lipid homeostasis. All three trans- membrane proteins are localized to the NE and can be coprecipitated. As has been shown for mutations affecting Brr6 and Apq12, mutations in Brl1 lead to defects in lipid metabolism, increased sensitivity to drugs that inhibit enzymes involved in lipid synthesis, and strong genetic interactions with mutations affecting lipid metabolism. Mutations affecting Brl1 or Brr6 or the absence of Apq12 leads to hyperfluid membranes, because mutant cells are hypersensitive to agents that increase membrane flu- idity. We suggest that the defects in nuclear pore complex biogenesis and mRNA export seen in these mutants are consequences of defects in maintaining the biophysical properties of the NE.