Nucleolar targeting: the hub of the matter

EMBO Rep. 2009 Mar;10(3):231-8. doi: 10.1038/embor.2009.14. Epub 2009 Feb 20.


The nucleolus is a dynamic structure that has roles in various processes, from ribosome biogenesis to regulation of the cell cycle and the cellular stress response. Such functions are frequently mediated by the sequestration or release of nucleolar proteins. Our understanding of protein targeting to the nucleolus is much less complete than our knowledge of membrane-spanning translocation systems--such as those involved in nuclear targeting--and the experimental evidence reveals that few parallels exist with these better-characterized systems. Here, we discuss the current understanding of nucleolar targeting, explore the types of sequence that control the localization of a protein to the nucleolus, and speculate that certain subsets of nucleolar proteins might act as hub proteins that are able to bind to multiple protein targets. In parallel to other subnuclear structures, such as PML bodies, the proteins that are involved in the formation and maintenance of the nucleolus are inexorably linked to nucleolar trafficking.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Cell Nucleolus / metabolism*
  • Cell Nucleolus / ultrastructure
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Nuclear Proteins / metabolism*
  • Protein Sorting Signals / genetics
  • Protein Transport
  • Signal Transduction / physiology


  • Nuclear Proteins
  • Protein Sorting Signals