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Biol Cell. 1984;51(1):23-33.

Ultrastructure and enzyme digestion of nucleoli and associated structures in hypothalamic nerve cells viewed in resinless sections.


Estrogen has been shown to affect ventromedial hypothalamic (VMH) nerve cell nucleoli in ovariectomized rats, by causing an increase in the number of electron-dense aggregates associated with nucleoli. In order to characterize these nucleolus-associated structures and other nuclear components, we examined the ultrastructure of ventromedial hypothalamic nucleoli and nuclei revealed by enzyme digestions (pepsin, RNase and DNase) in resinless thin sections. Digestion by pepsin did not cause obvious alterations in the morphology of the nucleolus or its related structures. Pepsin treatment followed by RNase, however, reduced the density of the nucleolus, while that of the nucleolus-associated structure and other related structures remained unchanged. Conversely pepsin treatment followed by DNase, reduced the density of nucleolus-associated and other chromatin structures, but had no effect on the density of the nucleolus. Pepsin treatment followed by RNase and then DNase treatment, reduced the density of the nucleolus and nucleolus-associated structures. A residual nucleolus and nucleolus-associated structure remained after this treatment. Stereo viewing of resinless sections shows that the nucleolus, its associated structures, and other related structures, are associated with fine filaments that may comprise the nuclear matrix. The nucleolus-associated structure containing DNA may direct RNA synthesis at an increased rate in estrogen-treated hypothalamic cells.

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