Integrating the genomic architecture of human nucleolar organizer regions with the biophysical properties of nucleoli
Gailín, Michael Ó
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Mangan, Hazel; Gailín, Michael Ó; McStay, Brian (2017). Integrating the genomic architecture of human nucleolar organizer regions with the biophysical properties of nucleoli. The FEBS Journal 284 (23), 3977-3985
Nucleoli are the sites of ribosome biogenesis and the largest membraneless subnuclear structures. They are intimately linked with growth and proliferation control and function as sensors of cellular stress. Nucleoli form around arrays of ribosomal gene (rDNA) repeats also called nucleolar organizer regions (NORs). In humans, NORs are located on the short arms of all five human acrocentric chromosomes. Multiple NORs contribute to the formation of large heterochromatin-surrounded nucleoli observed in most human cells. Here we will review recent findings about their genomic architecture. The dynamic nature of nucleoli began to be appreciated with the advent of photodynamic experiments using fluorescent protein fusions. We review more recent data on nucleoli in Xenopus germinal vesicles (GVs) which has revealed a liquid droplet-like behavior that facilitates nucleolar fusion. Further analysis in both XenopusGVs and Drosophila embryos indicates that the internal organization of nucleoli is generated by a combination of liquid-liquid phase separation and active processes involving rDNA. We will attempt to integrate these recent findings with the genomic architecture of human NORs to advance our understanding of how nucleoli form and respond to stress in human cells.