Visualization of the formation and transport of a specific hnRNP particle

Cell. 1983 Oct;34(3):847-55. doi: 10.1016/0092-8674(83)90542-1.


The growth and maturation of the transcription products on the Balbiani ring (BR) genes in Chironomus tentans has been characterized by electron microscopy. The BR transcript is packed into a series of well defined ribonucleoprotein structures of increasing complexity: a 10 nm fiber, a 19 nm fiber, a 26 nm fiber, and a 50 nm granule. The basic 10 nm element was revealed in Miller spreads. The in situ structure of the transcription products and RNA compaction estimates suggested that the 10 nm fiber is packed into the 19 nm fiber as a tight coil. The transition of the 19 nm fiber into the 26 nm fiber is accompanied by a major change of the basic 10 nm fold into a noncoiled structure. Finally, the 26 nm fiber makes a one and one-third left-handed turn forming the final product, the BR granule. Upon translocation through the nuclear pore the BR granule becomes rod-shaped, which most likely corresponds to a relaxation of the highest-order structure into a straight 26 nm fiber.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chironomidae
  • Chromosomes / ultrastructure
  • Heterogeneous-Nuclear Ribonucleoproteins
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Nucleic Acid Precursors / biosynthesis
  • RNA Precursors
  • RNA, Messenger / biosynthesis
  • Ribonucleoproteins / metabolism*
  • Salivary Glands / ultrastructure
  • Transcription, Genetic


  • Heterogeneous-Nuclear Ribonucleoproteins
  • Nucleic Acid Precursors
  • RNA Precursors
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Ribonucleoproteins