Investigation of cell cycle-associated structural reorganization in nucleolar FC/DFCs from mouse MFC cells by electron microscopy

Microscopy (Oxf). 2018 May 1. doi: 10.1093/jmicro/dfy020. Online ahead of print.


Nucleolus structure alters as the cell cycle is progressing. It is established in telophase, maintained throughout the entire interphase and disassembled in metaphase. Fibrillar centers (FCs), dense fibrillar components (DFCs) and granular components (GCs) are essential nucleolar organizations where rRNA transcription and processing and ribosome assembly take place. Hitherto, little is known about the cell cycle-dependent reorganization of these structures. In this study, we followed the nucleolus structure during the cell cycle by electron microscopy (EM). We found the nucleolus experienced multiple rounds of structural reorganization within a single cell cycle: (1) when nucleoli are formed during the transition from late M to G1 phase, FCs, DFCs and GCs are constructed, leading to the establishment of tripartite nucleolus; (2) as FC/DFCs are disrupted at mid-G1, tripartite nucleolus is gradually changed into a bipartite organization; (3) at late G1, the reassembly of FC/DFCs results in a structural transition from bipartite nucleolus towards tripartite nucleolus; (4) as cells enter S phase, FC/DFCs are disassembled again and tripartite nucleolus is thus changed into a bipartite organization. Of note, FC/DFCs were not observed until late S phase; (5) FC/DFCs experience structural disruption and restoration during G2 and (6) when cells are at mitotic stage, FC/DFCs disappear before nucleolus structure is disassembled. These results also suggest that bipartite nucleolus can exist in higher eukaryotes at certain period of the cell cycle. As structures are the fundamental basis of diverse cell activities, unveiling the structural reorganization of nucleolar FCs and DFCs may bring insights into the spatial-temporal compartmentalization of relevant cellular functions.