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RNA glue for the protein assembly line

In The EMBO Journal, Caudron-Herger and colleagues present evidence for a nucleolar skeleton composed of non-coding RNA enriched in Alu repeat elements. In their current work, DKFZ scientists from the groups of Ingrid Grummt and Karsten Rippe have discovered how RNA molecules regulate the structure of the nucleolus and drive the synthesis of the cellular machinery needed for protein production. When cells grow and divide rapidly, they need to run up the production of proteins. The cellular machinery for this task is synthesized and assembled in a special compartment of the cell nucleus called the nucleolus. The nucleolus constantly adapts its shape if the cell needs to produce more or less protein. Accordingly, fast dividing tumor cells often have bigger nucleoli. A detailed understanding of the mechanisms that govern nucleolus assembly, disassembly and function has important implications for explaining its disease-related deregulation and developing therapeutic treatments.

Caudron-Herger M, Pankert T, Seiler J, Nemeth A, Voit R, Grummt I & Rippe K (2015). Alu element-containing RNAs maintain nucleolar structure and function. EMBO J, published online 13 Ocotober 2015. doi: 10.15252/embj.201591458 | Abstract | Reprint (4.6 MB)

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