Mutational Analysis of the Structure and Localization of the Nucleolus in the Yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae

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The nucleolus in Saccharomyces cerevisiae is a crescent-shaped structure that makes extensive contact with the nuclear envelope. In different chromosomal rDNA deletion mutants that we have analyzed, the nucleolus is not organized into a crescent structure, as determined by immunofluorescence microscopy, fluorescence in situ hybridization, and electron microscopy. A strain carrying a plasmid with a single rDNA repeat transcribed by RNA polymerase I (Pol I) contained a fragmented nucleolus distributed throughout the nucleus, primarily localized at the nuclear periphery. A strain carrying a plasmid with the 35S rRNA coding region fused to the GAL7 promoter and transcribed by Pol II contained a rounded nucleolus that often lacked extensive contact with the nuclear envelope. Ultrastructurally distinct domains were observed within the round nucleolus. A similar rounded nucleolar morphology was also observed in strains carrying the Pol I plasmid in combination with mutations that affect Pol I function. In a Pol I-defective mutant strain that carried copies of the GAL7-35S rDNA fusion gene integrated into the chromosomal rDNA locus, the nucleolus exhibited a round morphology, but was more closely associated with the nuclear envelope in the form of a bulge. Thus, both the organization of the rDNA genes and the type of polymerase involved in rDNA expression strongly influence the organization and localization of the nucleolus.

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