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During the co-translational assembly of protein complexes, a fully synthesized subunit engages with the nascent chain of a newly synthesized interaction partner. Such events are thought to contribute to productive assembly, but their exact physiological relevance remains underexplored. Here, we examined structural motifs contained in nucleoporins for their potential to facilitate co-translational assembly. We experimentally tested candidate structural motifs and identified several previously unknown co-translational interactions. We demonstrate by selective ribosome profiling that domain invasion motifs of beta-propellers, coiled-coils, and short linear motifs act as co-translational assembly domains. Such motifs are often contained in proteins that are members of multiple complexes (moonlighters) and engage with closely related paralogs. Surprisingly, moonlighters and paralogs assembled co-translationally in only one but not all of the relevant assembly pathways. Our results highlight the regulatory complexity of assembly pathways.

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