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J Cell Biochem. 1998 Aug 1;70(2):181-92.

Of coiled bodies, gems, and salmon.

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Department of Genetics, Center for Human Genetics, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Cleveland, Ohio 44106-4955, USA.


Coiled bodies (CBs) are nuclear organelles whose morphology and composition have been conserved from plants to animals. They are highly enriched in components of three different RNA processing pathways. Small nuclear RNAs (snRNAs) involved in pre-mRNA splicing, rRNA processing, and histone mRNA 3' end maturation all take up residence in CBs. However, CB function(s) remain obscure. This review will focus on recent developments in several aspects of CB structure and function, including exciting new results on their twin organelles, called gems. In particular, the reader will be introduced to a novel hypothesis called the "salmon theory of snRNP biogenesis." Questions arising from and experiments necessary to test this hypothesis will be discussed.

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