Inspiration: The dynamic nuclear envelope
The central dogma of molecular biology states that DNA makes RNA, which then makes proteins. This genetic flow of information is critical and requires passage of RNA from the nucleus of the cell, where the DNA is stored, to the cytoplasm where the RNA can be decoded into proteins that will perform critical functions in the cell. However, this presents a challenge as the cell nucleus and cytoplasm are separated by the nuclear membrane. Until recently, it was accepted that the sole mechanism by which RNA made the journey from the nucleus to the cytoplasm was via movement through small openings in the nuclear membrane referred to as the Nuclear Pore Complex. My research challenges this idea by suggesting that large RNA particles can bud through the nuclear envelope, similar to a bubble leaving a bubble wand. Interestingly, this process is very similar to how large viruses escape the nucleus during infection. This exciting new research towards understanding a novel cellular mechanism could lead to significant discoveries relevant to human disease.
The micrographs that are acting as our inspiration were captured with a super-resolution microscope after labeling the nuclear lamina with a fluorescent probe. The image depicts the nucleus undergoing the Nuclear Envelope Budding process.