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Nucleoplasm Definition and Function

In this nucleoplasm definition and function post we have briefly explained about nucleoplasm in animal cell history, definition, components, functions and importance.

Nucleoplasm in Animal Cell

The nucleus of most cells contains a substance that suspends structures inside the nuclear membrane. Just like the cytoplasm found inside a cell, the nucleus contains nucleoplasm, also known as Karyoplasm.

The term “nucleoplasm” was coined by embryologist, cytologist and marine biologist Edouard van Beneden (1875), while “karyoplasm” was by Walther Flemming (1878) a German biologist and a founder of Cytogenetics.

Definition

The nucleoplasm in animal cell is a type of protoplasm that is made up mostly of water, a mixture of various molecules, and dissolved ions. It is completely enclosed within the nuclear membrane or nuclear envelope.

It is a highly gelatinous, sticky liquid that supports the chromosomes and nucleoli. The soluble, fluid component of the nucleoplasm in animal cell is called the Nucleosol or Nuclear Hyaloplasm.

It includes the chromosomes and nucleoli. Many substances such as nucleotides (necessary for purposes such as the replication of DNA) and enzymes (which direct activities that take place in the nucleus) are dissolved in it.

Structure

Nucleoplasm

Nucleoplasm in Animal Cell Definition and Function; The nucleus stores chromatin (DNA plus proteins) in a gel-like substance called the nucleoplasm.  Image Source: courses.lumenlearning

It consists of a viscous mix of water, in which various substances and structures are dissolved or carried, and an underlying intranuclear ultrastructure. It is especially rich in protein enzymes and protein constituents involved in the synthesis of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and the various types of ribonucleic acid (RNA), the precursor molecules of RNA, and the nucleotides from which they are assembled.

Some of these proteins direct initial transcription, while others function in the further modification of the RNA molecules for packaging and transport to the cytoplasm. Prominent structures located within the interphase nucleoplasm (the resting cell or the non-replicating cell) include organelles called nucleoli and the unwound DNA, called chromatin.

The nucleoli resemble miniature nuclei and are the sites of synthesis of precursor RNA molecules and their assembly. The other major components in nucleoplasm in animal cell include the DNA chromosomes seen during mitosis.

During cell interphase most of the DNA chromosomes exist as unwound chromatin that extends through the nucleoplasm. Two distinct types of chromatin are recognized. Diffuse, or uncondensed, chromatin is called Euchromatin and exists as thin threads that extend throughout much of the nucleoplasm.

Components

Although nucleoplasm in animal cell and cytoplasm are quite similar, there are a number of differences between the two, particularly in terms of the organelles, components and operations that occur.

Nucleolus

Within a cell/nucleus, the nucleolus is an important production centre. Ribosomal subunits and ribosomal RNA are produced there. The RNAs and proteins are then pushed out into the nucleus, where they can be processed into ribosomes.

Nucleotides

Nucleotides, the most fundamental building blocks of DNA and RNA, are also found in the nucleoplasm in animal cell. One of the enzymes found in the nucleoplasm in animal cell that can match the correct nucleotide bases to form long strings of DNA is DNA polymerase.

Chromatin

Chromatin is a molecular complex of DNA, RNA, and proteins that works to shrink and compact long strings of DNA so that they can fit more comfortably inside a cell.

Not only does chromatin aid in the folding of DNA, but it also keeps the strings from becoming tangled and helps to improve the efficiency of cellular replication. They are also linked to gene repression, DNA transcription, and gene expression processes.

Nuclear Matrix

The nuclear matrix can be found throughout the nucleus and plays an important role in nucleus structure maintenance. This network of fibres, which is often compared to a cell’s cytoskeleton, helps to organise the genetic material in the cell, speed up the process of cellular replication, and aid in gene expression.

Enzymes

Nucleoplasm in animal cell contains a variety of enzymes that are required to catalyse reactions occurring in the nucleus.

DNA polymerase is perhaps the most important enzyme found in the nucleoplasm in animal cell because it aids in the construction of DNA from nucleotide bases, but the nucleoplasm also contains enzymes such as hexokinase, 6-P-gluconic dehydrogenase, TPN-linked isocitric dehydrogenase, P-fructokinase, glucose-6-P dehydrogenase, and glutamic dehydrogenase.

Nucleoplasm Function

1. It acts as a suspension medium for components of the nucleus including the nucleolus, and chromatin.

2. Nucleotides required for DNA replication and enzymes involved in other nuclear processes are also found dissolved within the nucleoplasm in animal cell. It plays a role in the maintenance of the shape and structure of the nucleus.

3. The nuclear matrix is present within the nuclear hyaloplasm, the liquid component of the nucleoplasm.

4. One other function is that it is responsible for the transport of materials that are vital to metabolism and cell function.

Further Readings

Reference