Publications

2018
Distinct cis-acting elements mediate targeting and clustering of Drosophila polar granule mRNAs
Eagle WVI, Yeboah-Kordieh DK, Niepielko MG, Gavis ER. Distinct cis-acting elements mediate targeting and clustering of Drosophila polar granule mRNAs. Development 2018;145(22)Abstract
Specification and development of germ cells depend on molecular determinants within the germ plasm, a specialized cytoplasmic domain at the posterior of the embryo. Localization of numerous mRNAs to the germ plasm occurs by their incorporation, as single-transcript ribonucleoprotein (RNP) particles, into complex RNP granules called polar granules. Incorporation of mRNAs into polar granules is followed by recruitment of additional like transcripts to form discrete homotypic clusters. The -acting localization signals that target mRNAs to polar granules and promote homotypic clustering remain largely uncharacterized. Here, we show that the () and () 3' untranslated regions contain complex localization signals comprising multiple, independently weak and partially functionally redundant localization elements (LEs). We demonstrate that targeting of to polar granules and self-assembly into homotypic clusters are functionally separable processes mediated by distinct classes of LEs. We identify a sequence motif shared by other polar granule mRNAs that contributes to homotypic clustering. Our results suggest that mRNA localization signal complexity may be a feature required by the targeting and self-recruitment mechanism that drives germ plasm mRNA localization.
Stochastic Seeding Coupled with mRNA Self-Recruitment Generates Heterogeneous Drosophila Germ Granules
Niepielko MG, Eagle WVI, Gavis ER. Stochastic Seeding Coupled with mRNA Self-Recruitment Generates Heterogeneous Drosophila Germ Granules. Curr Biol 2018;Abstract
The formation of ribonucleoprotein assemblies called germ granules is a conserved feature of germline development. In Drosophila, germ granules form at the posterior of the oocyte in a specialized cytoplasm called the germ plasm, which specifies germline fate during embryogenesis. mRNAs, including nanos (nos) and polar granule component (pgc), that function in germline development are localized to the germ plasm through their incorporation into germ granules, which deliver them to the primordial germ cells. Germ granules are nucleated by Oskar (Osk) protein and contain varying combinations and quantities of their constituent mRNAs, which are organized as spatially distinct, multi-copy homotypic clusters. The process that gives rise to such heterogeneous yet organized granules remains unknown. Here, we show that individual nos and pgc transcripts can populate the same nascent granule, and these first transcripts then act as seeds, recruiting additional like transcripts to form homotypic clusters. Within a granule, homotypic clusters grow independently of each other but depend on the simultaneous acquisition of additional Osk. Although granules can contain multiple clusters of a particular mRNA, granule mRNA content is dominated by cluster size. These results suggest that the accumulation of mRNAs in the germ plasm is controlled by the mRNAs themselves through their ability to form homotypic clusters; thus, RNA self-association drives germ granule mRNA localization. We propose that a stochastic seeding and self-recruitment mechanism enables granules to simultaneously incorporate many different mRNAs while ensuring that each becomes enriched to a functional threshold.
2017
Enclosure of Dendrites by Epidermal Cells Restricts Branching and Permits Coordinated Development of Spatially Overlapping Sensory Neurons
Tenenbaum CM, Misra M, Alizzi RA, Gavis ER. Enclosure of Dendrites by Epidermal Cells Restricts Branching and Permits Coordinated Development of Spatially Overlapping Sensory Neurons. Cell Rep 2017;20(13):3043-3056.Abstract
Spatial arrangement of different neuron types within a territory is essential to neuronal development and function. How development of different neuron types is coordinated for spatial coexistence is poorly understood. In Drosophila, dendrites of four classes of dendritic arborization (C1-C4da) neurons innervate overlapping receptive fields within the larval epidermis. These dendrites are intermittently enclosed by epidermal cells, with different classes exhibiting varying degrees of enclosure. The role of enclosure in neuronal development and its underlying mechanism remain unknown. We show that the membrane-associated protein Coracle acts in C4da neurons and epidermal cells to locally restrict dendrite branching and outgrowth by promoting enclosure. Loss of C4da neuron enclosure results in excessive branching and growth of C4da neuron dendrites and retraction of C1da neuron dendrites due to local inhibitory interactions between neurons. We propose that enclosure of dendrites by epidermal cells is a developmental mechanism for coordinated innervation of shared receptive fields.
The Drosophila hnRNP F/H Homolog Glorund Uses Two Distinct RNA-Binding Modes to Diversify Target Recognition.
Tamayo JV, Teramoto T, Chatterjee S, Hall TTM, Gavis ER. The Drosophila hnRNP F/H Homolog Glorund Uses Two Distinct RNA-Binding Modes to Diversify Target Recognition. Cell Rep 2017;19(1):150-161.Abstract
The Drosophila hnRNP F/H homolog, Glorund (Glo), regulates nanos mRNA translation by interacting with a structured UA-rich motif in the nanos 3' untranslated region. Glo regulates additional RNAs, however, and mammalian homologs bind G-tract sequences to regulate alternative splicing, suggesting that Glo also recognizes G-tract RNA. To gain insight into how Glo recognizes both structured UA-rich and G-tract RNAs, we used mutational analysis guided by crystal structures of Glo's RNA-binding domains and identified two discrete RNA-binding surfaces that allow Glo to recognize both RNA motifs. By engineering Glo variants that favor a single RNA-binding mode, we show that a subset of Glo's functions in vivo is mediated solely by the G-tract binding mode, whereas regulation of nanos requires both recognition modes. Our findings suggest a molecular mechanism for the evolution of dual RNA motif recognition in Glo that may be applied to understanding the functional diversity of other RNA-binding proteins.
Germ Cell-less Promotes Centrosome Segregation to Induce Germ Cell Formation.
Lerit DA, Shebelut CW, Lawlor KJ, Rusan NM, Gavis ER, Schedl P, Deshpande G. Germ Cell-less Promotes Centrosome Segregation to Induce Germ Cell Formation. Cell Rep 2017;18(4):831-839.Abstract
The primordial germ cells (PGCs) specified during embryogenesis serve as progenitors to the adult germline stem cells. In Drosophila, the proper specification and formation of PGCs require both centrosomes and germ plasm, which contains the germline determinants. Centrosomes are microtubule (MT)-organizing centers that ensure the faithful segregation of germ plasm into PGCs. To date, mechanisms that modulate centrosome behavior to engineer PGC development have remained elusive. Only one germ plasm component, Germ cell-less (Gcl), is known to play a role in PGC formation. Here, we show that Gcl engineers PGC formation by regulating centrosome dynamics. Loss of gcl leads to aberrant centrosome separation and elaboration of the astral MT network, resulting in inefficient germ plasm segregation and aborted PGC cellularization. Importantly, compromising centrosome separation alone is sufficient to mimic the gcl loss-of-function phenotypes. We conclude Gcl functions as a key regulator of centrosome separation required for proper PGC development.
2016
Trovisco V, Belaya K, Nashchekin D, Irion U, Sirinakis G, Butler R, Lee JJ, Gavis ER, St Johnston D. bicoid mRNA localises to the Drosophila oocyte anterior by random Dynein-mediated transport and anchoring. Elife 2016;5Abstract
bicoid mRNA localises to the Drosophila oocyte anterior from stage 9 of oogenesis onwards to provide a local source for Bicoid protein for embryonic patterning. Live imaging at stage 9 reveals that bicoid mRNA particles undergo rapid Dynein-dependent movements near the oocyte anterior, but with no directional bias. Furthermore, bicoid mRNA localises normally in shot(2A2), which abolishes the polarised microtubule organisation. FRAP and photo-conversion experiments demonstrate that the RNA is stably anchored at the anterior, independently of microtubules. Thus, bicoid mRNA is localised by random active transport and anterior anchoring. Super-resolution imaging reveals that bicoid mRNA forms 110-120 nm particles with variable RNA content, but constant size. These particles appear to be well-defined structures that package the RNA for transport and anchoring.
Fixed and live visualization of RNAs in Drosophila oocytes and embryos.
Abbaszadeh EK, Gavis ER. Fixed and live visualization of RNAs in Drosophila oocytes and embryos. Methods 2016;98:34-41.Abstract
The ability to visualize RNA in situ is essential to dissect mechanisms for the temporal and spatial regulation of gene expression that drives development. Although considerable attention has been focused on transcriptional control, studies in model organisms like Drosophila have highlighted the importance of post-transcriptional mechanisms - most notably intracellular mRNA localization - in the formation and patterning of the body axes, specification of cell fates, and polarized cell functions. Our understanding of both types of regulation has been greatly advanced by technological innovations that enable a combination of highly quantitative and dynamic analysis of RNA. This review presents two methods, single molecule fluorescence in situ hybridization for high resolution quantitative RNA detection in fixed Drosophila oocytes and embryos and genetically encoded fluorescent RNA labeling for detection in live cells.
A Genome-Wide Screen for Dendritically Localized RNAs Identifies Genes Required for Dendrite Morphogenesis.
Misra M, Edmund H, Ennis D, Schlueter MA, Marot JE, Tambasco J, Barlow I, Sigurbjornsdottir S, Mathew R, Vallés AM, Wojciech W, Roth S, Davis I, Leptin M, Gavis ER. A Genome-Wide Screen for Dendritically Localized RNAs Identifies Genes Required for Dendrite Morphogenesis. G3 (Bethesda) 2016;6(8):2397-405.Abstract
Localizing messenger RNAs at specific subcellular sites is a conserved mechanism for targeting the synthesis of cytoplasmic proteins to distinct subcellular domains, thereby generating the asymmetric protein distributions necessary for cellular and developmental polarity. However, the full range of transcripts that are asymmetrically distributed in specialized cell types, and the significance of their localization, especially in the nervous system, are not known. We used the EP-MS2 method, which combines EP transposon insertion with the MS2/MCP in vivo fluorescent labeling system, to screen for novel localized transcripts in polarized cells, focusing on the highly branched Drosophila class IV dendritic arborization neurons. Of a total of 541 lines screened, we identified 55 EP-MS2 insertions producing transcripts that were enriched in neuronal processes, particularly in dendrites. The 47 genes identified by these insertions encode molecularly diverse proteins, and are enriched for genes that function in neuronal development and physiology. RNAi-mediated knockdown confirmed roles for many of the candidate genes in dendrite morphogenesis. We propose that the transport of mRNAs encoded by these genes into the dendrites allows their expression to be regulated on a local scale during the dynamic developmental processes of dendrite outgrowth, branching, and/or remodeling.
Nanos-mediated repression of hid protects larval sensory neurons after a global switch in sensitivity to apoptotic signals.
Bhogal B, Plaza-Jennings A, Gavis ER. Nanos-mediated repression of hid protects larval sensory neurons after a global switch in sensitivity to apoptotic signals. Development 2016;143(12):2147-59.Abstract
Dendritic arbor morphology is a key determinant of neuronal function. Once established, dendrite branching patterns must be maintained as the animal develops to ensure receptive field coverage. The translational repressors Nanos (Nos) and Pumilio (Pum) are required to maintain dendrite growth and branching of Drosophila larval class IV dendritic arborization (da) neurons, but their specific regulatory role remains unknown. We show that Nos-Pum-mediated repression of the pro-apoptotic gene head involution defective (hid) is required to maintain a balance of dendritic growth and retraction in class IV da neurons and that upregulation of hid results in decreased branching because of an increase in caspase activity. The temporal requirement for nos correlates with an ecdysone-triggered switch in sensitivity to apoptotic stimuli that occurs during the mid-L3 transition. We find that hid is required during pupariation for caspase-dependent pruning of class IV da neurons and that Nos and Pum delay pruning. Together, these results suggest that Nos and Pum provide a crucial neuroprotective regulatory layer to ensure that neurons behave appropriately in response to developmental cues.
Tenenbaum CM, Gavis ER. Removal of Drosophila Muscle Tissue from Larval Fillets for Immunofluorescence Analysis of Sensory Neurons and Epidermal Cells. J Vis Exp 2016;(117)Abstract
Drosophila larval dendritic arborization (da) neurons are a popular model for investigating mechanisms of neuronal morphogenesis. Da neurons develop in communication with the epidermal cells they innervate and thus their analysis benefits from in situ visualization of both neuronally and epidermally expressed proteins by immunofluorescence. Traditional methods of preparing larval fillets for immunofluorescence experiments leave intact the muscle tissue that covers most of the body wall, presenting several challenges to imaging neuronal and epidermal proteins. Here we describe a method for removing muscle tissue from Drosophila larval fillets. This protocol enables imaging of proteins that are otherwise obscured by muscle tissue, improves signal to noise ratio, and facilitates the use of super-resolution microscopy to study da neuron development.
2015
Independent and coordinate trafficking of single Drosophila germ plasm mRNAs.
Little SC, Sinsimer KS, Lee JJ, Wieschaus EF, Gavis ER. Independent and coordinate trafficking of single Drosophila germ plasm mRNAs. Nat Cell Biol 2015;17(5):558-68.Abstract
Messenger RNA localization is a conserved mechanism for spatial control of protein synthesis, with key roles in generating cellular and developmental asymmetry. Whereas different transcripts may be targeted to the same subcellular domain, the extent to which their localization is coordinated is unclear. Using quantitative single-molecule imaging, we analysed the assembly of Drosophila germ plasm mRNA granules inherited by nascent germ cells. We find that the germ-cell-destined transcripts nanos, cyclin B and polar granule component travel within the oocyte as ribonucleoprotein particles containing single mRNA molecules but co-assemble into multi-copy heterogeneous granules selectively at the posterior of the oocyte. The stoichiometry and dynamics of assembly indicate a defined stepwise sequence. Our data suggest that co-packaging of these transcripts ensures their effective segregation to germ cells. In contrast, compartmentalization of the germline determinant oskar mRNA into different granules limits its entry into germ cells. This exclusion is required for proper germline development.
López-Panadès E, Gavis ER, Casacuberta E. Specific Localization of the Drosophila Telomere Transposon Proteins and RNAs, Give Insight in Their Behavior, Control and Telomere Biology in This Organism. PLoS One 2015;10(6):e0128573.Abstract
Drosophila telomeres constitute a remarkable exception to the telomerase mechanism. Although maintaining the same cytological and functional properties as telomerase maintain telomeres, Drosophila telomeres embed the telomere retrotransposons whose specific and highly regulated terminal transposition maintains the appropriate telomere length in this organism. Nevertheless, our current understanding of how the mechanism of the retrotransposon telomere works and which features are shared with the telomerase system is very limited. We report for the first time a detailed study of the localization of the main components that constitute the telomeres in Drosophila, HeT-A and TART RNAs and proteins. Our results in wild type and mutant strains reveal localizations of HeT-A Gag and TART Pol that give insight in the behavior of the telomere retrotransposons and their control. We find that TART Pol and HeT-A Gag only co-localize at the telomeres during the interphase of cells undergoing mitotic cycles. In addition, unexpected protein and RNA localizations with a well-defined pattern in cells such as the ovarian border cells and nurse cells, suggest possible strategies for the telomere transposons to reach the oocyte, and/or additional functions that might be important for the correct development of the organism. Finally, we have been able to visualize the telomere RNAs at different ovarian stages of development in wild type and mutant lines, demonstrating their presence in spite of being tightly regulated by the piRNA mechanism.
2014
Extensive use of RNA-binding proteins in Drosophila sensory neuron dendrite morphogenesis.
Olesnicky EC, Killian DJ, Garcia E, Morton MC, Rathjen AR, Sola IE, Gavis ER. Extensive use of RNA-binding proteins in Drosophila sensory neuron dendrite morphogenesis. G3 (Bethesda) 2014;4(2):297-306.Abstract
The large number of RNA-binding proteins and translation factors encoded in the Drosophila and other metazoan genomes predicts widespread use of post-transcriptional regulation in cellular and developmental processes. Previous studies identified roles for several RNA-binding proteins in dendrite branching morphogenesis of Drosophila larval sensory neurons. To determine the larger contribution of post-transcriptional gene regulation to neuronal morphogenesis, we conducted an RNA interference screen to identify additional Drosophila proteins annotated as either RNA-binding proteins or translation factors that function in producing the complex dendritic trees of larval class IV dendritic arborization neurons. We identified 88 genes encoding such proteins whose knockdown resulted in aberrant dendritic morphology, including alterations in dendritic branch number, branch length, field size, and patterning of the dendritic tree. In particular, splicing and translation initiation factors were associated with distinct and characteristic phenotypes, suggesting that different morphogenetic events are best controlled at specific steps in post-transcriptional messenger RNA metabolism. Many of the factors identified in the screen have been implicated in controlling the subcellular distributions and translation of maternal messenger RNAs; thus, common post-transcriptional regulatory strategies may be used in neurogenesis and in the generation of asymmetry in the female germline and embryo.
2013
Dynein-dependent transport of nanos RNA in Drosophila sensory neurons requires Rumpelstiltskin and the germ plasm organizer Oskar.
Xu X, Brechbiel JL, Gavis ER. Dynein-dependent transport of nanos RNA in Drosophila sensory neurons requires Rumpelstiltskin and the germ plasm organizer Oskar. J Neurosci 2013;33(37):14791-800.Abstract
Intracellular mRNA localization is a conserved mechanism for spatially regulating protein production in polarized cells, such as neurons. The mRNA encoding the translational repressor Nanos (Nos) forms ribonucleoprotein (RNP) particles that are dendritically localized in Drosophila larval class IV dendritic arborization (da) neurons. In nos mutants, class IV da neurons exhibit reduced dendritic branching complexity, which is rescued by transgenic expression of wild-type nos mRNA but not by a localization-compromised nos derivative. While localization is essential for nos function in dendrite morphogenesis, the mechanism underlying the transport of nos RNP particles was unknown. We investigated the mechanism of dendritic nos mRNA localization by analyzing requirements for nos RNP particle motility in class IV da neuron dendrites through live imaging of fluorescently labeled nos mRNA. We show that dynein motor machinery components mediate transport of nos mRNA in proximal dendrites. Two factors, the RNA-binding protein Rumpelstiltskin and the germ plasm protein Oskar, which are required for diffusion/entrapment-mediated localization of nos during oogenesis, also function in da neurons for formation and transport of nos RNP particles. Additionally, we show that nos regulates neuronal function, most likely independent of its dendritic localization and function in morphogenesis. Our results reveal adaptability of localization factors for regulation of a target transcript in different cellular contexts.
Germ plasm anchoring is a dynamic state that requires persistent trafficking.
Sinsimer KS, Lee JJ, Thiberge SY, Gavis ER. Germ plasm anchoring is a dynamic state that requires persistent trafficking. Cell Rep 2013;5(5):1169-77.Abstract
Localized cytoplasmic determinants packaged as ribonucleoprotein (RNP) particles direct embryonic patterning and cell fate specification in a wide range of organisms. Once established, the asymmetric distributions of such RNP particles must be maintained, often over considerable developmental time. A striking example is the Drosophila germ plasm, which contains RNP particles whose localization to the posterior of the egg during oogenesis results in their asymmetric inheritance and segregation of germline from somatic fates in the embryo. Although actin-based anchoring mechanisms have been implicated, high-resolution live imaging revealed persistent trafficking of germ plasm RNP particles at the posterior cortex of the Drosophila oocyte. This motility relies on cortical microtubules, is mediated by kinesin and dynein motors, and requires coordination between the microtubule and actin cytoskeletons. Finally, we show that RNP particle motility is required for long-term germ plasm retention. We propose that anchoring is a dynamic state that renders asymmetries robust to developmental time and environmental perturbations.
2012
Combinatorial use of translational co-factors for cell type-specific regulation during neuronal morphogenesis in Drosophila.
Olesnicky EC, Bhogal B, Gavis ER. Combinatorial use of translational co-factors for cell type-specific regulation during neuronal morphogenesis in Drosophila. Dev Biol 2012;365(1):208-18.Abstract
The translational regulators Nanos (Nos) and Pumilio (Pum) work together to regulate the morphogenesis of dendritic arborization (da) neurons of the Drosophila larval peripheral nervous system. In contrast, Nos and Pum function in opposition to one another in the neuromuscular junction to regulate the morphogenesis and the electrophysiological properties of synaptic boutons. Neither the cellular functions of Nos and Pum nor their regulatory targets in neuronal morphogenesis are known. Here we show that Nos and Pum are required to maintain the dendritic complexity of da neurons during larval growth by promoting the outgrowth of new dendritic branches and the stabilization of existing dendritic branches, in part by regulating the expression of cut and head involution defective. Through an RNA interference screen we uncover a role for the translational co-factor Brain Tumor (Brat) in dendrite morphogenesis of da neurons and demonstrate that Nos, Pum, and Brat interact genetically to regulate dendrite morphogenesis. In the neuromuscular junction, Brat function is most likely specific for Pum in the presynaptic regulation of bouton morphogenesis. Our results reveal how the combinatorial use of co-regulators like Nos, Pum and Brat can diversify their roles in post-transcriptional regulation of gene expression for neuronal morphogenesis.
2011
Aubergine is a component of a nanos mRNA localization complex.
Becalska AN, Kim YJR, Belletier NG, Lerit DA, Sinsimer KS, Gavis ER. Aubergine is a component of a nanos mRNA localization complex. Dev Biol 2011;349(1):46-52.Abstract
Localization of nanos (nos) mRNA to the posterior pole of the Drosophila oocyte is essential for abdominal segmentation and germline development during embryogenesis. Posterior localization is mediated by a complex cis-acting localization signal in the nos 3' untranslated region that comprises multiple partially redundant elements. Genetic analysis suggests that this signal is recognized by RNA-binding proteins and associated factors that package nos mRNA into a localization competent ribonucleoprotein complex. However, functional redundancy among localization elements has made the identification of individual localization factors difficult. Indeed, only a single direct-acting nos localization factor, Rumpelstiltskin (Rump), has been identified thus far. Through a sensitized genetic screen, we have now identified the Argonaute family member Aubergine (Aub) as a nos localization factor. Aub interacts with nos mRNA in vivo and co-purifies with Rump in an RNA-dependent manner. Our results support a role for Aub, independent of its function in RNA silencing, as a component of a nos mRNA localization complex.
A late phase of germ plasm accumulation during Drosophila oogenesis requires lost and rumpelstiltskin.
Sinsimer KS, Jain RA, Chatterjee S, Gavis ER. A late phase of germ plasm accumulation during Drosophila oogenesis requires lost and rumpelstiltskin. Development 2011;138(16):3431-40.Abstract
Asymmetric mRNA localization is an effective mechanism for establishing cellular and developmental polarity. Posterior localization of oskar in the Drosophila oocyte targets the synthesis of Oskar to the posterior, where Oskar initiates the assembly of the germ plasm. In addition to harboring germline determinants, the germ plasm is required for localization and translation of the abdominal determinant nanos. Consequently, failure of oskar localization during oogenesis results in embryos lacking germ cells and abdominal segments. oskar accumulates at the oocyte posterior during mid-oogenesis through a well-studied process involving kinesin-mediated transport. Through live imaging of oskar mRNA, we have uncovered a second, mechanistically distinct phase of oskar localization that occurs during late oogenesis and results in amplification of the germ plasm. Analysis of two newly identified oskar localization factors, Rumpelstiltskin and Lost, that are required specifically for this late phase of oskar localization shows that germ plasm amplification ensures robust abdomen and germ cell formation during embryogenesis. In addition, our results indicate the importance of mechanisms for adapting mRNAs to utilize multiple localization pathways as necessitated by the dramatic changes in ovarian physiology that occur during oogenesis.
Multiple mechanisms collaborate to repress nanos translation in the Drosophila ovary and embryo.
Andrews S, Snowflack DR, Clark IE, Gavis ER. Multiple mechanisms collaborate to repress nanos translation in the Drosophila ovary and embryo. RNA 2011;17(5):967-77.Abstract
Translational control of gene expression is essential for development in organisms that rely on maternal mRNAs. In Drosophila, translation of maternal nanos (nos) mRNA must be restricted to the posterior of the early embryo for proper patterning of the anterior-posterior axis. Spatial control of nos translation is coordinated through the localization of a small subset of nos mRNA to the posterior pole late in oogenesis, activation of this localized mRNA, and repression of the remaining unlocalized nos mRNA throughout the bulk cytoplasm. Translational repression is mediated by the interaction of a cis-acting element in the nos 3' untranslated region with two proteins, Glorund (Glo) and Smaug (Smg), that function in the oocyte and embryo, respectively. The mechanism of Glo-dependent repression is unknown. Previous work suggests that Smg represses translation initiation but this model is not easily reconciled with evidence for polysome association of repressed nos mRNA. Using an in vitro translation system, we have decoupled translational repression of nos imposed during oogenesis from repression during embryogenesis. Our results suggest that both Glo and Smg regulate translation initiation, but by different mechanisms. Furthermore, we show that, during late oogenesis, nos translation is also repressed post-initiation and provide evidence that Glo mediates this event. This post-initiation block is maintained into embryogenesis during the transition to Smg-dependent regulation. We propose that the use of multiple modes of repression ensures inactivation of nos RNA that is translated at earlier stages of oogenesis and maintenance of this inactivate state throughout late oogenesis into embryogenesis.
Transport of germ plasm on astral microtubules directs germ cell development in Drosophila.
Lerit DA, Gavis ER. Transport of germ plasm on astral microtubules directs germ cell development in Drosophila. Curr Biol 2011;21(6):439-48.Abstract
BACKGROUND: In many organisms, germ cells are segregated from the soma through the inheritance of the specialized germ plasm, which contains mRNAs and proteins that specify germ cell fate and promote germline development. Whereas germ plasm assembly has been well characterized, mechanisms mediating germ plasm inheritance are poorly understood. In the Drosophila embryo, germ plasm is anchored to the posterior cortex, and nuclei that migrate into this region give rise to the germ cell progenitors, or pole cells. How the germ plasm interacts with these nuclei for pole cell induction and is selectively incorporated into the forming pole cells is not known. RESULTS: Live imaging of two conserved germ plasm components, nanos mRNA and Vasa protein, revealed that germ plasm segregation is a dynamic process involving active transport of germ plasm RNA-protein complexes coordinated with nuclear migration. We show that centrosomes accompanying posterior nuclei induce release of germ plasm from the cortex and recruit these components by dynein-dependent transport on centrosome-nucleated microtubules. As nuclei divide, continued transport on astral microtubules partitions germ plasm to daughter nuclei, leading to its segregation into pole cells. Disruption of these transport events prevents incorporation of germ plasm into pole cells and impairs germ cell development. CONCLUSIONS: Our results indicate that active transport of germ plasm is essential for its inheritance and ensures the production of a discrete population of germ cell progenitors endowed with requisite factors for germline development. Transport on astral microtubules may provide a general mechanism for the segregation of cell fate determinants.

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