Organization of rDNA gene NOR clusters

    The nucleolus organizer regions (NORs) comprise tandem arrays of several hundred ribosomal DNA (rDNA) genes that code for the major rRNA elements. These elements are transcribed as rRNA, which is of course not translated, and serve as structural components of the ribosomes. The rDNA clusters are separated by non-transcribed spacers (NTSs): post-transcriptional processing removes the NTS elements.   NORs are distinctive cytological features of the nucleus, and appear as darkly staining heterochromatic regions. As shown by the comparison of frog and fly NOR regions above, the basic arrangement is highly conserved across evolution between invertebrate and vertebrate genomes.

Figure after © 2000 Klug & Cummings;  text © 2014 by Steven M. Carr