Anomalies in the three-dimensional shape of the nucleus are associated with a number of genetic diseases. These shape distortions include lobulated structures, with localized bulges referred to as nuclear blebs. Blebbing can result from mutations in genes encoding lamin intermediate filaments that form the lamin cortex, a thin meshwork lining the nuclear envelope. However, the biophysical origins of nuclear blebs remain a mystery. A recent study by Funkhouser et al. provides a theoretical model in which the lamin cortex is modeled as a thin, inhomogeneous elastic shell. This model shows that partial segregation of different lamin sub-networks—each with distinct mechanical properties—can lead to shell morphologies similar to blebbed nuclei in living cells.
CM Funkhouser, R Sknepnek, T Shimi, AE Goldman, RD Goldman, de la Cruz M Olvera. Mechanical model of blebbing in nuclear lamin meshworks. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2013; 110: 3248- 53.
PMID: 23401537 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1300215110