Loss of Drosophila nucleostemin 2 (NS2) blocks nucleolar release of the 60S subunit leading to ribosome stress

Chromosoma. 2017 Jun;126(3):375-388. doi: 10.1007/s00412-016-0597-2. Epub 2016 May 6.


Four nucleostemin-like proteins (nucleostemin (NS) 1-4) were identified previously in Drosophila melanogaster. NS1 and NS2 are nucleolar proteins, while NS3 and NS4 are cytoplasmic proteins. We showed earlier that NS1 (homologous to human GNL3) enriches within the granular components (GCs) of Drosophila nucleoli and is required for efficient maturation or nucleolar release of the 60S subunit. Here, we show that NS2 is homologous to the human nucleostemin-like protein, Ngp1 (GNL2), and that endogenous NS2 is expressed in both progenitor and terminally differentiated cell types. Exogenous GFP-NS2 enriched within nucleolar GCs versus endogenous fibrillarin that marked the dense fibrillar components (DFCs). Like NS1, depletion of NS2 in midgut cells blocked the release of the 60S subunit as detected by the accumulation of GFP-RpL11 within nucleoli, and this likely led to the general loss of 60S subunits as shown by immunoblot analyses of RpL23a and RpL34. At the ultrastructural level, nucleoli in midgut cells depleted of NS2 displayed enlarged GCs not only on the nucleolar periphery but interspersed within the DFCs. Depletion of NS2 caused ribosome stress: larval midgut cells displayed prominent autophagy marked by the appearance of autolysosomes containing mCherry-ATG8a and the appearance of rough endoplasmic reticulum (rER)-derived isolation membranes. Larval imaginal wing disc cells depleted of NS2 induced apoptosis as marked by anti-caspase 3 labeling; loss of these progenitor cells resulted in defective adult wings. We conclude that nucleolar proteins NS1 and NS2 have similar but non-overlapping roles in the final maturation or nucleolar release of 60S ribosomal subunits.

Keywords: Apoptosis; Autophagy; Drosophila; Ngp1; Nucleostemin; Ribosome stress.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Nucleolus / genetics
  • Cell Nucleolus / metabolism*
  • Drosophila Proteins / genetics
  • Drosophila Proteins / metabolism*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics
  • Drosophila melanogaster / metabolism*
  • GTP-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • GTP-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • Nuclear Proteins / genetics
  • Nuclear Proteins / metabolism
  • Ribosome Subunits / genetics
  • Ribosome Subunits / metabolism*


  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • GTP-Binding Proteins
  • NS2 protein, Drosophila
  • nucleostemin 1, Drosophila