Functional ultrastructure of the plant nucleolus

Protoplasma. 2014 Nov;251(6):1285-306. doi: 10.1007/s00709-014-0648-6. Epub 2014 Apr 23.

Abstract

Nucleoli are nuclear domains present in almost all eukaryotic cells. They not only specialize in the production of ribosomal subunits but also play roles in many fundamental cellular activities. Concerning ribosome biosynthesis, particular stages of this process, i.e., ribosomal DNA transcription, primary RNA transcript processing, and ribosome assembly proceed in precisely defined nucleolar subdomains. Although eukaryotic nucleoli are conservative in respect of their main function, clear morphological differences between these structures can be noticed between individual kingdoms. In most cases, a plant nucleolus shows well-ordered structure in which four main ultrastructural components can be distinguished: fibrillar centers, dense fibrillar component, granular component, and nucleolar vacuoles. Nucleolar chromatin is an additional crucial structural component of this organelle. Nucleolonema, although it is not always an unequivocally distinguished nucleolar domain, has often been described as a well-grounded morphological element, especially of plant nucleoli. The ratios and morphology of particular subcompartments of a nucleolus can change depending on its metabolic activity which in turn is correlated with the physiological state of a cell, cell type, cell cycle phase, as well as with environmental influence. Precise attribution of functions to particular nucleolar subregions in the process of ribosome biosynthesis is now possible using various approaches. The presented description of plant nucleolar morphology summarizes previous knowledge regarding the function of nucleoli as well as of their particular subdomains not only in the course of ribosome biosynthesis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Nucleolus / ultrastructure*
  • Chromatin / metabolism
  • Plants / genetics
  • Plants / ultrastructure*
  • Ribosomes / metabolism
  • Subcellular Fractions / metabolism

Substances

  • Chromatin