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Mol Biol Cell. Jun 1994; 5(6): 633–644.
PMCID: PMC301079

In vitro assembly of coiled bodies in Xenopus egg extract.


When demembranated sperm nuclei are placed in a Xenopus egg extract, they become surrounded by a nuclear envelope and then swell to form morphologically typical pronuclei. Granules ranging from < 1.0 to approximately 3.0 microns in diameter appear within such nuclei. Bell et al. identified four nucleolar proteins in these "prenucleolar bodies" by immunofluorescent staining (fibrillarin, nucleolin, B23/NO38, 180-kDa nucleolar protein). By in situ hybridization we show that these bodies also contain U3 and U8 small nuclear RNAs (snRNAs), known to be involved in pre-rRNA processing. Moreover, they contain all the snRNAs involved in pre-mRNA splicing (U1, U2, U4, U5, and U6), as well as U7, which is required for histone pre-mRNA 3' end formation. In addition to the nucleolar antigens previously identified, we demonstrated staining with antibodies against the Sm epitope, trimethylguanosine, and coilin. Because the composition of these prenucleolar bodies is closer to that of coiled bodies than to nucleoli, we propose that they be referred to as coiled bodies. The existence of large coiled bodies in transcriptionally inactive pronuclei suggests that they may play a role in the import, assembly, and storage of RNA processing components but are not themselves sites of processing. In transcriptionally active nuclei coiled bodies could serve as sites for initial preassembly and distribution of snRNP complexes for the three major RNA processing pathways: pre-mRNA splicing, pre-rRNA processing, and histone pre-mRNA 3' end formation.

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