The nucleolus is the most prominent morphological feature within the nucleus of eukaryotic cells and is best known for its role in ribosome biogenesis. It forms around highly transcribed ribosomal RNA gene repeats which yield precursor rRNAs that are co-transcriptionally processed, folded and, while still within the nucleolus, associate with most of the ribosomal proteins. The nucleolus is therefore often thought of as a factory for making ribosomal subunits, which are exported as inactive precursors to the cytoplasm where late maturation makes them capable of mRNA binding and translation initiation. However, recent studies have shown substantial evidence for the presence of functional, translation competent ribosomal subunits within the nucleus, particularly in the nucleolus. These observations raise the intriguing possibility that the nucleolus, as well as being a ribosome factory, is also an important nuclear protein-synthesis plant.

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