Structure and function of the perinucleolar compartment in cancer cells

A. Slusarczyk, R. Kamath, C. Wang, D. Anchel, C. Pollock, M. A. Lewandowska, T. Fitzpatrick, D. P. Bazett-Jones, S. Huang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


The perinucleolar compartment (PNC) is a subnuclear body that forms in cancer cells. In vivo analyses using human tumor tissues demonstrate a close correlation between PNC prevalence and disease progress in colorectal carcinoma, and a high PNC prevalence is associated with poor patient outcome. These findings are consistent with previous observations in breast cancer and cancer cell lines in vitro. The PNC is composed of thick strands that form a filamental meshwork often extending into the nucleolus. Although it appears to be electron dense as observed by transmission electron microscopy (TEM), the actual density of the structure imaged by electron spectroscopy is much lower, similar to that of the interchromatin space, and is lined with ribonucleoproteins (RNPs). In situ detections show that the PNC is highly enriched with a subset of small RNAs of polymerase III (Pol III) origins and RNA-binding proteins primarily implicated in pre-mRNA processing. A novel gelshifting approach demonstrates that the addition of PNC-associated RNAs into HeLa cell lysates increases the mobility of polypyrimidine tract-binding (PTB) protein in a native gel electrophoresis, suggesting an interaction between these RNAs and PTB proteins. On the basis of these and other findings, we propose a working model in which novel RNPs have a key role in regulating gene expression at the PNC in cancer cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)599-605
Number of pages7
JournalCold Spring Harbor symposia on quantitative biology
StatePublished - 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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