Nuclear physics: quantitative single-cell approaches to nuclear organization and gene expression

T. Lionnet, Albert Einstein College of Medicine
B. Wu, Albert Einstein College of Medicine
David Grunwald, University of Massachusetts Medical School
Robert H. Singer, Albert Einstein College of Medicine
D. R. Larson, Albert Einstein College of Medicine

At the time of publication, David Grünwald was not yet affiliated with the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

Abstract

The internal workings of the nucleus remain a mystery. A list of component parts exists, and in many cases their functional roles are known for events such as transcription, RNA processing, or nuclear export. Some of these components exhibit structural features in the nucleus, regions of concentration or bodies that have given rise to the concept of functional compartmentalization--that there are underlying organizational principles to be described. In contrast, a picture is emerging in which transcription appears to drive the assembly of the functional components required for gene expression, drawing from pools of excess factors. Unifying this seemingly dual nature requires a more rigorous approach, one in which components are tracked in time and space and correlated with onset of specific nuclear functions. In this chapter, we anticipate tools that will address these questions and provide the missing kinetics of nuclear function. These tools are based on analyzing the fluctuations inherent in the weak signals of endogenous nuclear processes and determining values for them. In this way, it will be possible eventually to provide a computational model describing the functional relationships of essential components.