The perinucleolar compartment is directly associated with DNA

John T. Norton, Chen Wang, Alison Gjidoda, William R. Henry, Sui Huang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


The perinucleolar compartment (PNC) is a nuclear subdomain that is unique to tumor cells, and the percentage of cells in a population containing PNCs (PNC prevalence) indicates the level of malignancy of that population. Here, we utilize anti-cancer drugs and other exogenous stimuli to investigate the structure and function of the PNC. Screening of clinically used anti-cancer drugs revealed two types of drugs disassemble PNCs and do so through their specific molecular actions. Transcription inhibitors reduce PNC prevalence in parallel with RNA polymerase III transcription reduction, and a subset of DNA-damaging drugs and stimuli (UV radiation) disassemble the PNC. Inhibition of cellular DNA damage response demonstrated that the DNA damage itself, not the response or polymerase III inhibition, is responsible for PNC disassembly, suggesting that the maintenance of the PNC is dependent upon DNA integrity. Analyses of the types of DNA damage that cause PNC disassembly show that interstrand DNA base pairing, not strand continuity, is important for PNC integrity, indicating that the PNC components are directly interacting with the DNA. Complementary cell biology experiments demonstrated that the number of PNCs per cell increases with the rounds of endoreplication and that PNCs split into doublets during mid S phase, both of which are phenotypes that are typical of a replicating DNA loci. Together, these studies validate PNC disassembly as a screening marker to identify chemical probes and revealed that the PNC is directly nucleated on a DNA locus, suggesting a potential role for the PNC in gene expression regulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4090-4101
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number7
StatePublished - Feb 13 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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