The long-term goal of our research is to understand the functional organization of the animal cell nucleus. Specifically, we concentrate on two molecular processes that take place in the nucleus: the synthesis of RNA by the chromosomes (transcription) and the processing of this RNA into the mature messenger RNA (splicing). We study oocytes of Xenopus and other amphibians because of their exceptional size (~ 1 mm diameter) and the ease with which their giant nucleus (~ 0.4 mm diameter) can be isolated for molecular and structural analysis. We recently discovered that Xenopus oocytes store stable RNA sequences derived from the introns of most transcribed genes. This is an unexpected finding, because intronic sequences are generally destroyed within minutes after being spliced out of new transcripts. This stable intronic sequence (sis) RNA is transmitted to the embryo at fertilization and persists during early development until at least the blastula stage. For this reason we hypothesize the sisRNA may play a regulatory role during gene expression in the oocyte or early embryo. We will extend our studies to include the fly Drosophila, where we can apply sophisticated genetic techniques to better understand the function of sisRNA. We will also continue our studies on the giant """"""""lampbrush"""""""" chromosomes found in oocytes of frogs and salamanders. These chromosomes are so large that one can visualize transcription and splicing on specific genes by conventional light microscopy. We recently developed techniques for imaging transcription units on these chromosomes by superresolution microscopy. We can now examine transcription units with resolution in the range of 50-100 nm, approximately 2-4 X better than achievable by confocal microscopy. We will use immunofluorescent staining and fluorescent in situ hybridization to examine details of RNA transcription and processing at the molecular level. These studies could reveal aspects of RNA transcription and processing that are missed by conventional in vitro molecular studies.

Public Health Relevance

Our studies focus on transcription and splicing, two of the most basic aspects of molecular and cell biology. Transcription is the process by which the information in the DNA of a gene is converted into an RNA molecule. Part of this RNA molecule is discarded (spliced out) before the RNA is exported from the nucleus to the cytoplasm of the cell. Nearly all disease states, even those caused by bacteria and viruses, involve alterations in transcription and splicing of specific genes. Thus, understanding the processes of transcription and splicing is crucial in developing rational therapy for a wide variety of diseases, including genetic and metabolic diseases as well as cancer.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)
Research Project (R01)
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Nuclear and Cytoplasmic Structure/Function and Dynamics Study Section (NCSD)
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Bender, Michael T
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Carnegie Institution of Washington, D.C.
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Shi, Kevin Y; Mori, Eiichiro; Nizami, Zehra F et al. (2017) Toxic PRn poly-dipeptides encoded by the C9orf72 repeat expansion block nuclear import and export. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 114:E1111-E1117
Deryusheva, Svetlana; Gall, Joseph G (2017) Dual nature of pseudouridylation in U2 snRNA: Pus1p-dependent and Pus1p-independent activities in yeasts and higher eukaryotes. RNA 23:1060-1067
Gall, Joseph G; Nizami, Zehra F (2016) Isolation of Giant Lampbrush Chromosomes from Living Oocytes of Frogs and Salamanders. J Vis Exp :
Gall, Joseph G (2016) DNA replication and beyond. Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol 17:464
Gall, Joseph G (2016) The origin of in situ hybridization - A personal history. Methods 98:4-9
Nizami, Zehra F; Liu, Ji-Long; Gall, Joseph G (2015) Fluorescent In Situ Hybridization of Nuclear Bodies in Drosophila melanogaster Ovaries. Methods Mol Biol 1328:137-49
Talhouarne, Gaƫlle J S; Gall, Joseph G (2014) Lariat intronic RNAs in the cytoplasm of Xenopus tropicalis oocytes. RNA 20:1476-87
Deryusheva, Svetlana; Gall, Joseph G (2013) Novel small Cajal-body-specific RNAs identified in Drosophila: probing guide RNA function. RNA 19:1802-14
Endow, Sharyn A; Nizami, Zehra F; Gerbi, Susan A (2013) A remarkable career in science-Joseph G. Gall. Chromosome Res 21:339-43
Nizami, Zehra F; Gall, Joseph G (2012) Pearls are novel Cajal body-like structures in the Xenopus germinal vesicle that are dependent on RNA pol III transcription. Chromosome Res 20:953-69

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