SARS-CoV-2: Achilles' heel of viral RNA

When SARS-CoV-2 infects a cell, it introduces its RNA into it and re-programs it in such a way that the cell first produces viral proteins and then whole viral particles. In the search for active substances against SARS-CoV-2, ...

A new era of spaceflight? Promising advances in rocket propulsion

The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) has recently commissioned three private companies, Blue Origin, Lockheed Martin and General Atomics, to develop nuclear fission thermal rockets for use in lunar orbit.

Realtime imaging of female gamete formation in plants

Scientists from Nagoya University, Yokohama City University and Chubu University have developed a system which enables the live imaging of the formation of the female gamete in plants.

Cell death shines a light on the origins of complex life

Organelles continue to thrive after the cells within which they exist die, a team of University of Bristol scientists have found, overturning previous assumptions that organelles decay too quickly to be fossilized.

Tissues protect their DNA under mechanical stress

In everyday life, our tissues, for example, skin and muscle, are stretched, pulled and compressed without causing damage to the cells or the DNA. A team of researchers led by Sara Wickström from the Max Planck Institute ...

What organizes the genome in the nucleus?

Spatial separation of active from inactive fractions of the genome in the cell nucleus is crucial for gene expression control. A new study uncovers leading mechanisms of such separation and turns our picture of the nucleus ...

Mammoth moves: frozen cells come to life, but only just

A team of scientists in Japan has successfully coaxed activity from 28,000-year-old cells from a frozen mammoth implanted into mouse cells, but the woolly mammal is unlikely to be walking among us soon.

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Cell nucleus

In cell biology, the nucleus (pl. nuclei; from Latin nucleus or nuculeus, or kernel), also sometimes referred to as the "control center", is a membrane-enclosed organelle found in eukaryotic cells. It contains most of the cell's genetic material, organized as multiple long linear DNA molecules in complex with a large variety of proteins, such as histones, to form chromosomes. The genes within these chromosomes are the cell's nuclear genome. The function of the nucleus is to maintain the integrity of these genes and to control the activities of the cell by regulating gene expression--the nucleus is therefore the control center of the cell.

The main structures making up the nucleus are the nuclear envelope, a double membrane that encloses the entire organelle and separates its contents from the cellular cytoplasm, and the nuclear lamina, a meshwork within the nucleus that adds mechanical support, much like the cytoskeleton supports the cell as a whole. Because the nuclear membrane is impermeable to most molecules, nuclear pores are required to allow movement of molecules across the envelope. These pores cross both of the membranes, providing a channel that allows free movement of small molecules and ions. The movement of larger molecules such as proteins is carefully controlled, and requires active transport regulated by carrier proteins. Nuclear transport is crucial to cell function, as movement through the pores is required for both gene expression and chromosomal maintenance.

Although the interior of the nucleus does not contain any membrane-bound subcompartments, its contents are not uniform, and a number of subnuclear bodies exist, made up of unique proteins, RNA molecules, and particular parts of the chromosomes. The best known of these is the nucleolus, which is mainly involved in the assembly of ribosomes. After being produced in the nucleolus, ribosomes are exported to the cytoplasm where they translate mRNA.

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