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Nucleus function-the regulating center of a cell

The nucleus is an organelle found in cells with nucleus called the eukaryotic cells. Inside this nucleus are the vast majority of a cell's genetic material. This genetic material is arranged as DNA molecules together with different proteins which in turn forms what is known as the chromosomes

Chromosomes refer to thread-like structures located inside the nucleus of both animal and plant cells. Also, each of these chromosomes is made of protein and a single molecule of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) that can be passed down from parents to offspring. This DNA also has the specific instructions that make each type of living creature special. The term chromosome comes from the Greek words for color (chroma) and body (soma). Scientists gave this name to chromosomes because their cell structures, or bodies, that are stained by some colorful dyes which are used for research studies

In addition, this nucleus is also made up of a double membrane nuclear envelope that houses the whole organelle, thereby the nucleus function in keeping its contents from the rest of the cell, and the nucleo-skeleton which serves as supports for the cell in general. Another function of the nucleus is to maintain the safety of the genes and controls the functions of the entire cell by regulating gene conversion. In other words, this is the main reason behind the nucleus being referred to as sometimes the control center or in more complex terms, the brain of a cell

Gene expression mentioned above as part of the nucleus function and by the way, one of its major functions is a process by which genetic information(s) from one gene located within the chromosomes are used in the production or synthesis of a functional gene product that are often known as proteins. These proteins are literally the non-protein coding genes like:

  • The transfer RNA abbreviated as (tRNA)
  • Or small nuclear RNA also abbreviated as (snRNA) genes

Since large molecules cannot directly get inside the nucleus through the nuclear envelope, therefore, small holes called nuclear pores dot the surface area of the nuclear envelope. These small pores control the transportation processes of those molecules inside and outside by carrier proteins implanted in the 2-layers of the membrane. Small molecules and ions are therefore able to pass through the membrane freely and without obstruction

A nuclear membrane, also known called the nuclear envelope is the double lipid bilayer membrane that is around the genetic material and nucleolus in eukaryotic cells. This nuclear membrane is made up of 2 lipid bilayers, which are:

  • the inner nuclear membrane
  • the outer nuclear membrane 

Structures and Other functions of the nucleus

In many animal cells, two systems of intermediate filaments provide mechanical support for the nucleus. The first is the nuclear lamina that forms a substructure on the inside of the nuclear membrane while the less organized structures are found on the cytoplasmic side of the envelope. These 2 systems do not only give structural support for the nuclear envelope, they also serve as an attachment site for chromosomes and the nuclear pores. There are several other structures found within the nucleus and none of which are enclosed in their own membranes. Some of these structures include:

  • Cajal bodies
  • Gemini of coiled bodies
  • while others are simply referred to as paraspeckles or splicing speckles

Paraspeckles are the not well-shaped compartments in the nucleus interchromatin space. First cataloged in HeLa cells, where there are generally up to 10-30 paraspeckles in a single nucleus. Paraspeckles are now known to also exist in all the primary cells of human, transformed cell lines, and tissue sections. Paraspeckles are dynamic structures which are altered in response to changes in cellular metabolic activity

Splicing speckles: these are sub-nuclear structures that are enriched in pre-messenger RNA splicing factors that are situated in the interchromatin regions of the nucleoplasm of mammalian cells. Under the fluorescence microscope, splicing speckles look like irregular, punctate structures, which vary in size as well as shape, and when examined by electron microscopy they are seen as clusters of interchromatin granules

Not much is known about most of these structures other than they indicate that the nucleoplasm contains organized and useful components. The nucleus is the site for genetic transcription while keeping them from the cytoplasm. This means that gene regulation occurs in eukaryotic cells i.e. cells without a nucleus, but this gene regulation is not available to prokaryotes i.e. cells without a nucleus. Which means the main function of the nucleus is to govern gene conversion and facilitate DNA replication during the cell cycle

Inside the nucleus is at least a dark-colored mass known as nucleolus. The nucleolus is the nuclear subdomain that arranges the ribosomal subunits in eukaryotic cells. The nucleolar coordinator regions of chromosomes, which has the genes for (rRNA), serve as the ground for nucleolar structure. DNA occupies most of the rest of the space inside a nucleus

DNA is a genetic material that has the information as well as the instructions necessary to construct proteins. These proteins, in turn, are responsible for helping out with most activities in a cell. A nondividing nucleus also called the resting nucleus is actually making the molecules which allow the rest of the cell to perform their function. One of the most significant events taking place within the nucleus is transcription. This nucleus function helps in the process of transcription which involves the transfer of the instructions on the DNA to RNA. This DNA is referred to as a stable store of genetic information that must be translated via RNA molecules in order to construct the proteins coded in its blueprint. Messenger RNA produces the same copy of a stretch of the DNA molecule and then moves RNA outside of the nucleus via the small pores to the cytoplasm. Within the cytoplasm, the RNA finds the ribosomes where it engulfs the protein products with the help of transfer RNA molecules

Prior to cell division, the nucleus divides itself to form 2 new cells and each of these new cells will have genetic information within them. This is another nucleus function. Many nuclear enzymes organize the division of DNA. During this cell division, the nuclear membrane divides, and equal copies of DNA and cytoplasm are subdivided into 2 daughter cells. This fundamental sequence of events gives room for the continuation of eukaryotic life in the embryonic development and cellular regeneration throughout life

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