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Paraspeckles are nuclear condensates, or membranelees organelles, that are built on the long noncoding RNA, NEAT1, and have been linked to many diseases. Although originally described as constitutive structures, here, in reviewing this field, we develop the hypothesis that cells increase paraspeckle abundance as part of a general stress response, to aid pro-survival pathways. Paraspeckles increase in many scenarios: when cells transform from one state to another, become infected with viruses and bacteria, begin to degenerate, under inflammation, in aging, and in cancer. Cells increase paraspeckles by increasing transcription of NEAT1 and adjusting its RNA processing. These increases in NEAT1 are driven by numerous stress-sensing signaling pathways, including signaling to mitochondria and stress granules, revealing crosstalk between the cytoplasm and nucleoplasm in the stress response. Thus, paraspeckles are an important piece of the puzzle in cellular homeostasis, and could be considered RNA-scaffolded nuclear equivalents of dynamic stress-induced structures that form in the cytoplasm. We speculate that, in general, cells rely on phase-separated paraspeckles to transiently tweak gene regulation in times of cellular flux.
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