Scaling laws indicate distinct nucleation mechanisms of holes in the nuclear lamina

Dan Deviri, Charlotte R. Pfeifer, Lawrence J. Dooling, Irena L. Ivanovska, Dennis E. Discher, Samuel A. Safran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


During a first-order phase transition, an interfacial layer is formed between the coexisting phases and kinetically limits homogeneous nucleation of the new phase in the original phase. This inhibition is commonly alleviated by the presence of impurities, often of unknown origin, that serve as heterogeneous nucleation sites for the transition. Living systems present a theoretical opportunity: the regulated structure of living systems allows modelling of the impurities, enabling quantitative analysis and comparison between homogeneous and heterogeneous nucleation mechanisms, usually a difficult task. Here, we formulate an analytical model of heterogeneous nucleation of holes in the nuclear lamina, a phenomenon with implications in cancer metastasis, ageing and other diseases. We then present measurements of hole nucleation in the lamina of nuclei migrating through controlled constrictions and fit the experimental data to our heterogeneous nucleation model as well as a homogeneous model. Surprisingly, we find that different mechanisms dominate depending on the density of filaments that comprise the nuclear lamina.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)823-829
Number of pages7
JournalNature Physics
Issue number8
Early online date6 May 2019
StatePublished - Aug 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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