The Nucleolus as a Multiphase Liquid Condensate

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The nucleolus is the most prominent nuclear body and serves a fundamentally important biological role as a site of ribonucleoprotein particle assembly, primarily dedicated to ribosome biogenesis. Despite being one of the first intracellular structures visualized historically, the biophysical rules governing its assembly and function are only starting to become …

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The “iNo score”: Towards bringing the nucleolus in the clinics


Using the iNo score to discriminate normal from altered nucleolar morphology, with applications in basic cell biology and potential in human disease diagnostics             Ribosome biogenesis is initiated in the nucleolus, a cell condensate essential to gene expression, whose morphology informs cancer pathologists on the health …

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Curing cancer with Daffodils?

Pellegrino et al., have shown that haemanthamine inhibits both ribosome biogenesis and function, providing for the first time the molecular basis of the anticancer properties of this natural compound used for centuries in folk medicine. The ribosome biogenesis inhibition triggers an antitumoral surveillance response leading to p53 stabilization (nucleolar stress).

Published in Structure (Cell Press), March 2018. In collaboration with Marat Yusupov (IGBMC, U. Strasbourg)

“A helping hand is providing the natural anticancer compound haemanthamine, extracted from the Amaryllidaceae Narcissus, to a heart-shaped ribosome to suppress cancer cell growth”. Illustration by Cat Minh Vo (c), Brussels, 2018.

Cover of Structure magazine, March 2018

"Helping hands" by Cat Minh Vo 2018



Involvement of U3 and U8 box C/D snoRNAs in tumorigenesis


Small nucleolar RNAs (snoRNAs) are emerging as a novel class of proto-oncogenes and tumor suppressors; their involvement in tumorigenesis remains unclear. The box C/D snoRNAs U3 and U8 are upregulated in breast cancers. Here we characterize the function of human U3 and U8 in ribosome biogenesis, nucleolar structure, and tumorigenesis. …

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“Ki-67 organizes heterochromatin and is required for nucleolar genesis”


  In Collaboration with Daniel Fisher (Montpellier Institute of Molecular Genetics – CNRS, Université de Montpellier), we showed that Ki-67 plays an important role during nucleologenesis. Specifically, we showed that Ki-67 is important for PR (Perichromosomal Region) formation: During mitosis, the nucleolus undergoes a dramatic cycle of disassembly and reassembly. …

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“Kill The Sammson, Kill The Melanoma”


In a work led by Jean-Christophe Marine (VIB, KU Leuven) we contributed to the characterization of the lineage-specific long non-coding RNA Sammson. Sammson is only expressed in melanoma cells. When Sammson’ expression is shut, melanoma cells die, principally of loss of mitochondrial function. Focal amplifications of chromosome 3p13–3p14 occur in …

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