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Open Access Open Badges Research article

Identification of a novel nucleolin related protein (NRP) gene expressed during rat spermatogenesis

Keerthi T Chathoth1, Gayatri Ganesan1 and MRS Rao12*

Author Affiliations

1 Molecular Biology and Genetics Unit, Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, Jakkur, Banglore, India, 560064

2 Department of Biochemistry, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India, 560012

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BMC Molecular Biology 2009, 10:64  doi:10.1186/1471-2199-10-64

Published: 1 July 2009



Nucleolin is a major nucleolar phosphoprotein involved in various steps of ribosome biogenesis in eukaryotic cells. As nucleolin plays a significant role in ribosomal RNA transcription we were interested in examining in detail the expression of nucleolin across different stages of spermatogenesis and correlate with the transcription status of ribosomal DNA in germ cells.


By RT PCR and western blot analysis we found that nucleolin is strongly down regulated in meiotic spermatocytes and haploid germ cells. We have identified a new nucleolin related protein (NRP) gene in the rat genome, which is over expressed in the testis and is up regulated several fold in meiotic spermatocytes and haploid germ cells. The NRP protein lacks the acidic stretches in its N terminal domain, and it is encoded in rat chromosome 15 having a different genomic organization as compared to nucleolin gene present on chromosome 9. We have also found NRP genes encoded in genomes of other mammalian species. We performed run-on transcription assay where we have observed that rDNA is transcribed at much lower level in meiotic spermatocytes and haploid spermatids as compared to diploid cells. By siRNA knock down experiments we could also demonstrate that NRP can support rDNA transcription in the absence of nucleolin.


We have identified a new nucleolin variant over expressed in germ cells in rat and analyzed its domain structure. We attribute that the transcriptional activity of rDNA genes in the late spermatogenesis is due to the presence of this variant NRP. The expression of this variant in the germ cells in the absence of nucleolin, could have additional functions in the mammalian spermatogenesis which needs to be investigated further.