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Histochem Cell Biol. 2006 Aug;126(2):135-48. Epub 2006 Jul 12.

The nucleolus: a model for the organization of nuclear functions.

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Nuclei and Cell Cycle, Institut Jacques Monod, CNRS, Université Paris VI, Université Paris VII, 2 place Jussieu, 75251 Paris Cedex 05, France.


Nucleoli are the prominent contrasted structures of the cell nucleus. In the nucleolus, ribosomal RNAs (rRNAs) are synthesized, processed and assembled with ribosomal proteins. The size and organization of the nucleolus are directly related to ribosome production. The organization of the nucleolus reveals the functional compartmentation of the nucleolar machineries that depends on nucleolar activity. When this activity is blocked, disrupted or impossible, the nucleolar proteins have the capacity to interact independently of the processing activity. In addition, nucleoli are dynamic structures in which nucleolar proteins rapidly associate and dissociate with nucleolar components in continuous exchanges with the nucleoplasm. At the time of nucleolar assembly, the processing machineries are recruited in a regulated manner in time and space, controlled by different kinases and form intermediate structures, the prenucleolar bodies. The participation of stable pre-rRNAs in nucleolar assembly was demonstrated after mitosis and during development but this is an intriguing observation since the role of these pre-rRNAs is presently unknown. A brief report on the nucleolus and diseases is proposed as well as of nucleolar functions different from ribosome biogenesis.

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