In dividing eukaryotic cells, nucleoli disperse before mitosis and reform in daughter cells at sites of ribosomal RNA (rRNA) gene clusters that are at the secondary constrictions of chromosomes, called nucleolus organizer regions (NORs). In this study, cDNA clones for a NOR autoantigen (NOR-90) were selected using a specific human autoantibody probe and were subsequently identified to encode an alternative form of the reported human upstream binding factor (hUBF). Results from immunoprecipitation showed that anti-NOR-90 antibodies recognized both forms of hUBF/NOR-90. Our data therefore showed that UBF, a critical factor in the regulation of rRNA transcription, was tightly bound to NOR during mitosis even when rRNA synthesis was thought to be minimal. Furthermore, we identified a nucleolar transcription factor as a novel target for human autoimmune response.

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