Lecture 4 - Nuclear Structure and Function Flashcards Preview

Unit 1 - Molecular and Cellular Principles of Medicine > Lecture 4 - Nuclear Structure and Function > Flashcards

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What are the 5 main functions of the nucleus?

1. Protect chromosomes

2. Repair chromosomes

3. Facilitate expression of genes

4. Construct ribosomes


Describe the basic structure of the nucleus...

Nuclear envelope (double membrane) punctuated by nuclear pores surrounded by intermediate filaments. Chromosomes spread inside of nucleus with nucleolus (non membrane bound sub-compartment) present. 


Describe the nuclear envelope

Double membrane structure that is continuous with the ER


Describe the function of the nuclear lamina

Support the nuclear envelope, organize chromosomes, and regulate nuclear breakdown at mitosis.


What are nuclear pores?

Semi-selective gates through which proteins and ribonucleoprotein complexes are moved into and out of the nucleus.


Describe the general structure of the nuclear pores


How is nuclear transport facilitated?

A intranuclear Ran GTP vs cytosol Ran GDP gradient exists which provides the energy for transport. 


What is a nuclear localization signal?

Large proteins being imported into the nucleus requires a NLS - contiguous sequence of 4-8 positively charge amino acids (lysine and/or arginine).


How does nuclear import work?

The protein's NLS combines with an importin carrier protein and directs it through the nuclear pore. Ran GTP then binds to the importin, which releases the cargo, and returns the importin to the cytosol. Through GRP hydrolysis, the importin is free to bind more cargo.


Describe how RNA export works.

The substrate is recognized by the carrier protein (exportin) and Ran-GTP, and released outside of the nucleus when Ran-GTP undergoes hydrolysis.


Describe the main structure and function of the nucleolus.

Non membrane bound, sub compartment of the nucleus whose primary function is ribosome biogenesis. Formed on rDNA repeats that are on 5 different chromosomes.


Recognize and describe the 3 main regions of the nucleolus.

1. Fibrillar center - contains DNA that is not being transcribed.

2. Dense Fibrillar Component - this region contains rRNA molecules actively being synthesized (many from the same DNA strand at once).

3. Granular component - contains maturing ribosomal precursor particles.


Describe ribosome biogenesis.

45S rRNA genes are transcribed in the nucleolus. Ribosomal proteins and processing factors assemble along with 5S rRNA. 45S rRNA then processed by nucleases to create 18S rRNA of the small ribosomal subunit, and the 5.8S rRNA and 28S rRNA of the large subunit. They are then transferred into the cytoplasm for final assembly.


Replication origins are what....

Required for, and are the sites of, the initiation of DNA replication - there are many spread over the length of chromosomes


What is a centromere?

Serves to attach the chromosome to the mitotic apparatus during cell division via kinectechores.


Describe telomeres!

Required to stabilize the chromosome ends against the shortening of DNA replication. Keep actual genetic info from being cut during replication. Telomerase functions to extend the length of the telomeres.


What percent of the human genome codes is expressed?



What are 3 examples of repetitive junk DNA?

1. Alu sequences - 5% of the genome, contain recognition sequence for restriction enzyme AluI

2. Transposons - mobile DNA elements

3. Pseudogenes - copies of true genes, became non-functional


Describe the process from transcription to translation...


What is chromatin?

The sum of chromosomal DNA and its associated proteins


What subunits comprise the nucleosome?

Histones H2A, H2B, H3, and H4


How many bp wrap around a nucleosome? (how many with linker DNA?)

146 bp, (200 bp)


How is the 30-nm fiber constructed?

Histone H1 subunits connect to coil the DNA wrapped nucleosomes in a 6 member coil.


Describe changes to histone proteins that might affect DNA transcription.

Methylation and acetylation of the histone N-terminal domains can affect expression of genes.


What is the function of the nuclear matrix?

Mostly made of protein, it is believed to provide structure and organization to the nucleus - gives distinct territories to the nucleus. Maxtrix-associated regions are where the chromosomes attach to the nuclear matrix.


What happens in the nucleus at mitosis?

All transcriptional activity stops, chromosomes condense (nucleolus goes away), lamin proteins phosphorylated and break apart.


What are examples of diseases arising from defects in the nucleus?

Systemic lupus erythematosus - caused by production of antibodies to self-antigens in the nucleus

Acute promyelocytic leukemia - caused by mutation of nuclear protein PML (creates subcompartment)

Spinal muscular atrophy - mutations in protein SMN, involved in RNA splicing.