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The nucleolus, an ally, and an enemy of cancer cells

The nucleolus, an ally, and an enemy of cancer cells

Histochemistry and Cell Biology 150(6): 607-629

The rates of ribosome production by a nucleolus and of protein biosynthesis by ribosomes are tightly correlated with the rate of cell growth and proliferation. All these processes must be matched and appropriately regulated to provide optimal cell functioning. Deregulation of certain factors, including oncogenes, controlling these processes, especially ribosome biosynthesis, can lead to cell transformation. Cancer cells are characterized by intense ribosome biosynthesis which is advantageous for their growth and proliferation. On the other hand, this feature can be engaged as an anticancer strategy. Numerous nucleolar factors such as nucleolar and ribosomal proteins as well as different RNAs, in addition to their role in ribosome biosynthesis, have other functions, including those associated with cancer biology. Some of them can contribute to cell transformation and cancer development. Others, under stress evoked by different factors which often hamper function of nucleoli and thus induce nucleolar/ribosomal stress, can participate in combating cancer cells. In this sense, intentional application of therapeutic agents affecting ribosome biosynthesis can cause either release of these molecules from nucleoli or their de novo biosynthesis to mediate the activation of pathways leading to elimination of harmful cells. This review underlines the role of a nucleolus not only as a ribosome constituting apparatus but also as a hub of both positive and negative control of cancer development. The article is mainly based on original papers concerning mechanisms in which the nucleolus is implicated directly or indirectly in processes associated with neoplasia.

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Accession: 065599863

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PMID: 30105457

DOI: 10.1007/s00418-018-1706-5

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