Cajal body number and nucleolar size correlate with the cell body mass in human sensory ganglia neurons

J Struct Biol. 2007 Jun;158(3):410-20. doi: 10.1016/j.jsb.2006.12.008. Epub 2006 Dec 28.


This paper studies the cell size-dependent organization of the nucleolus and Cajal bodies (CBs) in dissociated human dorsal root ganglia (DRG) neurons from autopsy tissue samples of patients without neurological disease. The quantitative analysis of nucleoli with an anti-fibrillarin antibody showed that all neurons have only one nucleolus. However, the nucleolar volume and the number of fibrillar centers per nucleolus significantly increase as a function of cell body size. Immunostaining for coilin demonstrated the presence of numerous CBs in DRG neurons (up to 20 in large size neurons). The number of CBs per neuron correlated positively with the cell body volume. Light and electron microscopy immunocytochemical analysis revealed the concentration of coilin, snRNPs, SMN and fibrillarin in CBs of DRG neurons. CBs were frequently associated with the nucleolus, active chromatin domains and PML bodies, but not with telomeres. Our results support the view that the nucleolar volume and number of both fibrillar centers and CBs depend on the cell body mass, a parameter closely related to transcriptional and synaptic activity in mammalian neurons. Moreover, the unusual large number of CBs could facilitate the transfer of RNA processing components from CBs to nucleolar and nucleoplasmic sites of RNA processing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Nucleus / ultrastructure*
  • Coiled Bodies / ultrastructure*
  • Ganglia, Spinal / cytology*
  • Humans
  • Neurons / ultrastructure*