Sitting on the nuclear envelope, nuclear pore complexes (NPCs) control the molecular transport between the nucleus and the cytoplasm. Without definite open or close states, the NPC uses a family of intrinsically disordered nucleoporins called FG-Nups to construct a selective permeability barrier whose functional structure is unclear. Experimental advances have offered high-resolution molecular knowledge of the NPC scaffold and docking of the unfolded FG-Nups, however, the ‘hairy’ barrier structure still appears as blurred lobes even under the state-of-the-art microscopy. Without accurate experimental visualization, the molecular mechanism for the NPC-mediated transport remains a matter of debate. Modeling provides an alternative way to resolve this long-standing mystery. Here, we briefly review different methods employed in modeling the FG-Nups, arranging from all-atom molecular dynamics to mean-field theories. We discuss the advantage and limit of each modeling technique, and summarize the theoretical insights that, despite certain controversy, deepened our understanding of the hairy pore.

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