Histochemistry and Cell Biology

, Volume 123, Issue 3, pp 203–216 | Cite as

The moving parts of the nucleolus

  • M. O. J. OlsonEmail author
  • Miroslav Dundr


The cell nucleolus is the subnuclear body in which ribosomal subunits are assembled, and it is also the location of several processes not related to ribosome biogenesis. Recent studies have revealed that nucleolar components move about in a variety of ways. One class of movement is associated with ribosome assembly, which is a vectorial process originating at the sites of transcription in the border region between the fibrillar center and the dense fibrillar component. The nascent preribosomal particles move outwardly to become the granular components where further maturation takes place. These particles continue their travel through the nucleoplasm for eventual export to the cytoplasm to become functional ribosomes. In a second kind of motion, many nucleolar components rapidly exchange with the nucleoplasm. Thirdly, nucleolar components engage in very complex movements when the nucleolus disassembles at the beginning of mitosis and then reassembles at the end of mitosis. Finally, many other cellular and viral macromolecules, which are not related to ribosome assembly, also pass through or are retained by the nucleolus. These are involved in nontraditional roles of the nucleolus, including regulation of tumor suppressor and oncogene activities, signal recognition particle assembly, modification of small RNAs, control of aging, and modulating telomerase function.


Nucleolus Ribosome assembly Mitosis Nucleolar assembly Macromolecular mobility 



The authors acknowledge the helpful discussions with Dr. P. DiMario, Dr. J. Gall, Dr. P. Hozak, Dr. S. Huang, and Dr. P. de Lanerolle, and critical reading of the manuscript by Dr. T. Misteli.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BiochemistryThe University of Mississippi Medical CenterJacksonUSA
  2. 2.National Cancer InstituteNational Institutes of HealthBethesdaUSA

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