The Nucleolus: A Multiphase Condensate Balancing Ribosome Synthesis and Translational Capacity in Health, Aging and Ribosomopathies.Cells 2019; 8(8)C
The nucleolus is the largest membrane-less structure in the eukaryotic nucleus. It is involved in the biogenesis of ribosomes, essential macromolecular machines responsible for synthesizing all proteins required by the cell. The assembly of ribosomes is evolutionarily conserved and is the most energy-consuming cellular process needed for cell growth, proliferation, and homeostasis. Despite the significance of this process, the intricate pathophysiological relationship between the nucleolus and protein synthesis has only recently begun to emerge. Here, we provide perspective on new principles governing nucleolar formation and the resulting multiphase organization driven by liquid-liquid phase separation. With recent advances in the structural analysis of ribosome formation, we highlight the current understanding of the step-wise assembly of pre-ribosomal subunits and the quality control required for proper function. Finally, we address how aging affects ribosome genesis and how genetic defects in ribosome formation cause ribosomopathies, complex diseases with a predisposition to cancer.