The nucleolus is the largest compartment of the cell nucleus and is where ribosomal RNAs (rRNAs) are synthesized, processed and assembled with ribosomal proteins. In addition to rRNA gene clusters that build the core of this subnuclear structure, nucleoli are associated with condensed chromatin. Although the higher order structures of rRNA genes and nucleolus-associated chromatin have been studied for decades, detailed molecular insights into the constituents and organization of the nucleolar genome are only beginning to emerge. Here, we summarize current views on the structural organization of nucleolar DNA and on the targeting and anchoring of chromatin domains to this subnuclear compartment.
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