Cajal bodies: the first 100 years

Annu Rev Cell Dev Biol. 2000:16:273-300. doi: 10.1146/annurev.cellbio.16.1.273.


Cajal bodies are small nuclear organelles first described nearly 100 years ago by Ramón y Cajal in vertebrate neural tissues. They have since been found in a variety of animal and plant nuclei, suggesting that they are involved in basic cellular processes. Cajal bodies contain a marker protein of unknown function, p80-coilin, and many components involved in transcription and processing of nuclear RNAs. Among these are the three eukaryotic RNA polymerases and factors required for transcribing and processing their respective nuclear transcripts: mRNA, rRNA, and pol III transcripts. A model is discussed in which Cajal bodies are the sites for preassembly of transcriptosomes, unitary particles involved in transcription and processing of RNA. A parallel is drawn to the nucleolus and the preassembly of ribosomes, which are unitary particles involved in translation of proteins.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • 3' Untranslated Regions / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Cell Nucleolus / metabolism
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism
  • Histones
  • Humans
  • Nuclear Proteins / genetics
  • Nuclear Proteins / metabolism
  • Nuclear Proteins / physiology
  • Oocytes / metabolism
  • Organelles / metabolism
  • Organelles / physiology*
  • RNA Precursors / metabolism
  • RNA Processing, Post-Transcriptional


  • 3' Untranslated Regions
  • Histones
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • RNA Precursors
  • p80-coilin