We have studied the distribution of poly(A)+ RNA in the mammalian cell nucleus and its transport through nuclear pores by fluorescence and electron microscopic in situ hybridization. Poly(A)+ RNA was detected in the nucleus as a speckled pattern which includes interchromatin granule clusters and perichromatin fibrils. When cells are fractionated by detergent and salt extraction as well as DNase I digestion, the majority of the nuclear poly(A)+ RNA was found to remain associated with the nonchromatin RNP-enriched fraction of the nucleus. After inhibition of RNA polymerase II transcription for 5-10 h, a stable population of poly(A)+ RNA remained in the nucleus and was reorganized into fewer and larger interchromatin granule clusters along with pre-mRNA splicing factors. This stable population of nuclear RNA may play an important role in nuclear function. Furthermore, we have observed that, in actively transcribing cells, the regions of poly(A)+ RNA which reached the nuclear pore complexes appeared as narrow concentrations of RNA suggesting a limited or directed pathway of movement. All of the observed nuclear pores contained poly(A)+ RNA staining suggesting that they are all capable of exporting RNA. In addition, we have directly visualized, for the first time in mammalian cells, the transport of poly(A)+ RNA through the nuclear pore complexes.

This content is only available as a PDF.