Localization in the nucleolus and coiled bodies of protein subunits of the ribonucleoprotein ribonuclease P

Nayef Jarrous, Joseph S. Wolenski, Donna Wesolowski, Christopher Lee, Sidney Altman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

83 Scopus citations


The precise location of the tRNA processing ribonucleoprotein ribonuclease P (RNase P) and the mechanism of its intranuclear distribution have not been completely delineated. We show that three protein subunits of human RNase P (Rpp), Rpp14, Rpp29 and Rpp38, are found in the nucleolus and that each can localize a reporter protein to nucleoli of cells in tissue culture. In contrast to Rpp38, which is uniformly distributed in nucleoli, Rpp14 and Rpp29 are confined to the dense fibrillar component. Rpp29 and Rpp38 possess functional, yet distinct domains required for subnucleolar localization. The subunit Rpp14 lacks such a domain and appears to be dependent on a piggy-back process to reach the nucleolus. Biochemical analysis suggests that catalytically active RNase P exists in the nucleolus. We also provide evidence that Rpp29 and Rpp38 reside in coiled bodies, organelles that are implicated in the biogenesis of several other small nuclear ribonucleoproteins required for processing of precursor mRNA. Because some protein subunits of RNase P are shared by the ribosomal RNA processing ribonucleoprotein RNase MRP, these two evolutionary related holoenzymes may share common intranuclear localization and assembly pathways to coordinate the processing of tRNA and rRNA precursors.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)559-571
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Cell Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 9 Aug 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Coiled body
  • Nucleolus
  • RNase mitochondrial RNA processing
  • Ribonuclease P
  • tRNA


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