Nucleus - Research Article from Macmillan Science Library: Genetics

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The largest of the membrane-bound organelles, the nucleus first was described in 1710 by Antoni van Leeuwenhoek using a simple microscope. In 1831 the Scottish botanist Robert Brown characterized the organelle in detail, calling it the "nucleus," from the Latin word for "little nut." The nucleus is the site of gene expression and gene regulation.

Distinctive Features

A distinguishing characteristic of eukaryotes, the nucleus contains the genetic information (genome) of the cell in the form of its chromosomes. It is within the nucleus that the DNA in the chromosomes is duplicated prior to cell division and where the RNAs are synthesized. Ribosomes are partially assembled around the newly synthesized ribosomal RNAs (rRNA) while still in the nucleus and then transported into the cytoplasm to continue their final assembly. Similarly, messenger RNAs (mRNA) are synthesized, packaged, and subsequently transported to the cytoplasmic ribosomes, where they are translated into protein.

Figure 1. Pancreatic cell nucleus magnified nearly 3,000 times by an electron microscope. Stains help to differentiate the various compartments of the nucleus. Note the membrane around the outside, and the extensive endoplasmic reticulum beyond. The dark, stained material within the membrane is chromatin. Figure 1. Pancreatic...

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This section contains 2,631 words
(approx. 9 pages at 300 words per page)
Buy the Nucleus Encyclopedia Article
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