Fluctuations of pol I and fibrillarin contents of the nucleoli

Nucleus. 2017 Jul 4;8(4):421-432. doi: 10.1080/19491034.2017.1306160. Epub 2017 Jun 16.


Nucleoli are formed on the basis of ribosomal DNA (rDNA) clusters called Nucleolus Organizer Regions (NORs). Each NOR contains multiple genes coding for RNAs of the ribosomal particles. The prominent components of the nucleolar ultrastructure, fibrillar centers (FC) and dense fibrillar components (DFC), together compose FC/DFC units. These units are centers of rDNA transcription by RNA polymerase I (pol I), as well as the early processing events, in which an essential role belongs to fibrillarin. Each FC/DFC unit probably corresponds to a single transcriptionally active gene. In this work, we transfected human-derived cells with GFP-RPA43 (subunit of pol I) and RFP-fibrillarin. Following changes of the fluorescent signals in individual FC/DFC units, we found two kinds of kinetics: 1) the rapid fluctuations with periods of 2-3 min, when the pol I and fibrillarin signals oscillated in anti-phase manner, and the intensities of pol I in the neighboring FC/DFC units did not correlate. 2) fluctuations with periods of 10 to 60 min, in which pol I and fibrillarin signals measured in the same unit did not correlate, but pol I signals in the units belonging to different nucleoli were synchronized. Our data indicate that a complex pulsing activity of transcription as well as early processing is common for ribosomal genes.

Keywords: fibrillarin; fluctuation; pol I; rDNA; transcription pulsing.

MeSH terms

  • Cell Nucleolus / chemistry*
  • Cell Nucleolus / enzymology*
  • Chromosomal Proteins, Non-Histone / chemistry
  • Chromosomal Proteins, Non-Histone / metabolism*
  • DNA-Directed RNA Polymerases / chemistry
  • DNA-Directed RNA Polymerases / metabolism*
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Microscopy, Confocal


  • Chromosomal Proteins, Non-Histone
  • fibrillarin
  • DNA-Directed RNA Polymerases