• We are sorry, but NCBI web applications do not support your browser and may not function properly. More information
Logo of geneticsGeneticsCurrent IssueInformation for AuthorsEditorial BoardSubscribeSubmit a Manuscript
Genetics. Jul 2003; 164(3): 989–1001.
PMCID: PMC1462612

Regulation of maternal transcript destabilization during egg activation in Drosophila.


In animals, the transfer of developmental control from maternal RNAs and proteins to zygotically derived products occurs at the midblastula transition. This is accompanied by the destabilization of a subset of maternal transcripts. In Drosophila, maternal transcript destabilization occurs in the absence of fertilization and requires specific cis-acting instability elements. We show here that egg activation is necessary and sufficient to trigger transcript destabilization. We have identified 13 maternal-effect lethal loci that, when mutated, result in failure of maternal transcript degradation. All mutants identified are defective in one or more additional processes associated with egg activation. These include vitelline membrane reorganization, cortical microtubule depolymerization, translation of maternal mRNA, completion of meiosis, and chromosome condensation (the S-to-M transition) after meiosis. The least pleiotropic class of transcript destabilization mutants consists of three genes: pan gu, plutonium, and giant nuclei. These three genes regulate the S-to-M transition at the end of meiosis and are thought to be required for the maintenance of cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK) activity during this cell cycle transition. Consistent with a possible functional connection between this S-to-M transition and transcript destabilization, we show that in vitro-activated eggs, which exhibit aberrant postmeiotic chromosome condensation, fail to initiate transcript degradation. Several genetic tests exclude the possibility that reduction of CDK/cyclin complex activity per se is responsible for the failure to trigger transcript destabilization in these mutants. We propose that the trigger for transcript destabilization occurs coincidently with the S-to-M transition at the end of meiosis and that pan gu, plutonium, and giant nuclei regulate maternal transcript destabilization independent of their role in cell cycle regulation.

Full Text

The Full Text of this article is available as a PDF (373K).

Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
  • Swan WD. SPLEEN THERAPY IN TUBERCULOSIS. Can Med Assoc J. 1930 Jan;22(1):33–34. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Sallés FJ, Lieberfarb ME, Wreden C, Gergen JP, Strickland S. Coordinate initiation of Drosophila development by regulated polyadenylation of maternal messenger RNAs. Science. 1994 Dec 23;266(5193):1996–1999. [PubMed]
  • Courtot C, Fankhauser C, Simanis V, Lehner CF. The Drosophila cdc25 homolog twine is required for meiosis. Development. 1992 Oct;116(2):405–416. [PubMed]
  • Dawson IA, Roth S, Akam M, Artavanis-Tsakonas S. Mutations of the fizzy locus cause metaphase arrest in Drosophila melanogaster embryos. Development. 1993 Jan;117(1):359–376. [PubMed]
  • Degelmann A, Hardy PA, Mahowald AP. Genetic analysis of two female-sterile loci affecting eggshell integrity and embryonic pattern formation in Drosophila melanogaster. Genetics. 1990 Oct;126(2):427–434. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Ding D, Parkhurst SM, Halsell SR, Lipshitz HD. Dynamic Hsp83 RNA localization during Drosophila oogenesis and embryogenesis. Mol Cell Biol. 1993 Jun;13(6):3773–3781. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Dorée M, Galas S. The cyclin-dependent protein kinases and the control of cell division. FASEB J. 1994 Nov;8(14):1114–1121. [PubMed]
  • Driever W, Nüsslein-Volhard C. A gradient of bicoid protein in Drosophila embryos. Cell. 1988 Jul 1;54(1):83–93. [PubMed]
  • Duval C, Bouvet P, Omilli F, Roghi C, Dorel C, LeGuellec R, Paris J, Osborne HB. Stability of maternal mRNA in Xenopus embryos: role of transcription and translation. Mol Cell Biol. 1990 Aug;10(8):4123–4129. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Edgar BA, Datar SA. Zygotic degradation of two maternal Cdc25 mRNAs terminates Drosophila's early cell cycle program. Genes Dev. 1996 Aug 1;10(15):1966–1977. [PubMed]
  • Edgar BA, Odell GM, Schubiger G. A genetic switch, based on negative regulation, sharpens stripes in Drosophila embryos. Dev Genet. 1989;10(3):124–142. [PubMed]
  • Endow SA, Komma DJ. Spindle dynamics during meiosis in Drosophila oocytes. J Cell Biol. 1997 Jun 16;137(6):1321–1336. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Fenger DD, Carminati JL, Burney-Sigman DL, Kashevsky H, Dines JL, Elfring LK, Orr-Weaver TL. PAN GU: a protein kinase that inhibits S phase and promotes mitosis in early Drosophila development. Development. 2000 Nov;127(22):4763–4774. [PubMed]
  • Freeman M, Nüsslein-Volhard C, Glover DM. The dissociation of nuclear and centrosomal division in gnu, a mutation causing giant nuclei in Drosophila. Cell. 1986 Aug 1;46(3):457–468. [PubMed]
  • Gamberi Chiara, Peterson David S, He Luming, Gottlieb Ellen. An anterior function for the Drosophila posterior determinant Pumilio. Development. 2002 Jun;129(11):2699–2710. [PubMed]
  • Gay NJ, Keith FJ. Regulation of translation and proteolysis during the development of embryonic dorso-ventral polarity in Drosophila. Homology of easter proteinase with Limulus proclotting enzyme and translational activation of Toll receptor synthesis. Biochim Biophys Acta. 1992 Oct 20;1132(3):290–296. [PubMed]
  • Alphey L, Jimenez J, White-Cooper H, Dawson I, Nurse P, Glover DM. twine, a cdc25 homolog that functions in the male and female germline of Drosophila. Cell. 1992 Jun 12;69(6):977–988. [PubMed]
  • Groisman I, Huang YS, Mendez R, Cao Q, Theurkauf W, Richter JD. CPEB, maskin, and cyclin B1 mRNA at the mitotic apparatus: implications for local translational control of cell division. Cell. 2000 Oct 27;103(3):435–447. [PubMed]
  • Anderson KV, Lengyel JA. Rates of synthesis of major classes of RNA in Drosophila embryos. Dev Biol. 1979 May;70(1):217–231. [PubMed]
  • Heifetz Y, Lung O, Frongillo EA, Jr, Wolfner MF. The Drosophila seminal fluid protein Acp26Aa stimulates release of oocytes by the ovary. Curr Biol. 2000 Jan 27;10(2):99–102. [PubMed]
  • Axton JM, Shamanski FL, Young LM, Henderson DS, Boyd JB, Orr-Weaver TL. The inhibitor of DNA replication encoded by the Drosophila gene plutonium is a small, ankyrin repeat protein. EMBO J. 1994 Jan 15;13(2):462–470. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Heifetz Y, Yu J, Wolfner MF. Ovulation triggers activation of Drosophila oocytes. Dev Biol. 2001 Jun 15;234(2):416–424. [PubMed]
  • Henrion G, Brunet A, Renard JP, Duranthon V. Identification of maternal transcripts that progressively disappear during the cleavage period of rabbit embryos. Mol Reprod Dev. 1997 Aug;47(4):353–362. [PubMed]
  • Bashirullah A, Halsell SR, Cooperstock RL, Kloc M, Karaiskakis A, Fisher WW, Fu W, Hamilton JK, Etkin LD, Lipshitz HD. Joint action of two RNA degradation pathways controls the timing of maternal transcript elimination at the midblastula transition in Drosophila melanogaster. EMBO J. 1999 May 4;18(9):2610–2620. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Henrion G, Renard JP, Chesné P, Oudin JF, Maniey D, Brunet A, Osborne HB, Duranthon V. Differential regulation of the translation and the stability of two maternal transcripts in preimplantation rabbit embryos. Mol Reprod Dev. 2000 May;56(1):12–25. [PubMed]
  • Bashirullah A, Cooperstock RL, Lipshitz HD. Spatial and temporal control of RNA stability. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2001 Jun 19;98(13):7025–7028. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Hong CC, Hashimoto C. An unusual mosaic protein with a protease domain, encoded by the nudel gene, is involved in defining embryonic dorsoventral polarity in Drosophila. Cell. 1995 Sep 8;82(5):785–794. [PubMed]
  • Berry LD, Gould KL. Regulation of Cdc2 activity by phosphorylation at T14/Y15. Prog Cell Cycle Res. 1996;2:99–105. [PubMed]
  • Brent AE, MacQueen A, Hazelrigg T. The Drosophila wispy gene is required for RNA localization and other microtubule-based events of meiosis and early embryogenesis. Genetics. 2000 Apr;154(4):1649–1662. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Jiménez Gerardo, González-Reyes Acaimo, Casanova Jordi. Cell surface proteins Nasrat and Polehole stabilize the Torso-like extracellular determinant in Drosophila oogenesis. Genes Dev. 2002 Apr 15;16(8):913–918. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Brunet-Simon A, Henrion G, Renard JP, Duranthon V. Onset of zygotic transcription and maternal transcript legacy in the rabbit embryo. Mol Reprod Dev. 2001 Feb;58(2):127–136. [PubMed]
  • Kishida M, Callard GV. Distinct cytochrome P450 aromatase isoforms in zebrafish (Danio rerio) brain and ovary are differentially programmed and estrogen regulated during early development. Endocrinology. 2001 Feb;142(2):740–750. [PubMed]
  • Chu DT, Klymkowsky MW. The appearance of acetylated alpha-tubulin during early development and cellular differentiation in Xenopus. Dev Biol. 1989 Nov;136(1):104–117. [PubMed]
  • Lee LA, Elfring LK, Bosco G, Orr-Weaver TL. A genetic screen for suppressors and enhancers of the Drosophila PAN GU cell cycle kinase identifies cyclin B as a target. Genetics. 2001 Aug;158(4):1545–1556. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Sallés FJ, Lieberfarb ME, Wreden C, Gergen JP, Strickland S. Coordinate initiation of Drosophila development by regulated polyadenylation of maternal messenger RNAs. Science. 1994 Dec 23;266(5193):1996–1999. [PubMed]
  • LeMosy EK, Hashimoto C. The nudel protease of Drosophila is required for eggshell biogenesis in addition to embryonic patterning. Dev Biol. 2000 Jan 15;217(2):352–361. [PubMed]
  • LeMosy EK, Kemler D, Hashimoto C. Role of Nudel protease activation in triggering dorsoventral polarization of the Drosophila embryo. Development. 1998 Oct;125(20):4045–4053. [PubMed]
  • Savant SS, Waring GL. Molecular analysis and rescue of a vitelline membrane mutant in Drosophila. Dev Biol. 1989 Sep;135(1):43–52. [PubMed]
  • LeMosy EK, Leclerc CL, Hashimoto C. Biochemical defects of mutant nudel alleles causing early developmental arrest or dorsalization of the Drosophila embryo. Genetics. 2000 Jan;154(1):247–257. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Schüpbach T, Wieschaus E. Female sterile mutations on the second chromosome of Drosophila melanogaster. I. Maternal effect mutations. Genetics. 1989 Jan;121(1):101–117. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Lieberfarb ME, Chu T, Wreden C, Theurkauf W, Gergen JP, Strickland S. Mutations that perturb poly(A)-dependent maternal mRNA activation block the initiation of development. Development. 1996 Feb;122(2):579–588. [PubMed]
  • Shamanski FL, Orr-Weaver TL. The Drosophila plutonium and pan gu genes regulate entry into S phase at fertilization. Cell. 1991 Sep 20;66(6):1289–1300. [PubMed]
  • Smibert CA, Wilson JE, Kerr K, Macdonald PM. smaug protein represses translation of unlocalized nanos mRNA in the Drosophila embryo. Genes Dev. 1996 Oct 15;10(20):2600–2609. [PubMed]
  • Lin HF, Wolfner MF. The Drosophila maternal-effect gene fs(1)Ya encodes a cell cycle-dependent nuclear envelope component required for embryonic mitosis. Cell. 1991 Jan 11;64(1):49–62. [PubMed]
  • Stern B, Ried G, Clegg NJ, Grigliatti TA, Lehner CF. Genetic analysis of the Drosophila cdc2 homolog. Development. 1993 Jan;117(1):219–232. [PubMed]
  • Liu J, Song K, Wolfner MF. Mutational analyses of fs(1)Ya, an essential, developmentally regulated, nuclear envelope protein in Drosophila. Genetics. 1995 Dec;141(4):1473–1481. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Swan A, Hijal S, Hilfiker A, Suter B. Identification of new X-chromosomal genes required for Drosophila oogenesis and novel roles for fs(1)Yb, brainiac and dunce. Genome Res. 2001 Jan;11(1):67–77. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Liu J, Lin H, Lopez JM, Wolfner MF. Formation of the male pronuclear lamina in Drosophila melanogaster. Dev Biol. 1997 Apr 15;184(2):187–196. [PubMed]
  • Theurkauf WE. Microtubules and cytoplasm organization during Drosophila oogenesis. Dev Biol. 1994 Oct;165(2):352–360. [PubMed]
  • Theurkauf WE, Smiley S, Wong ML, Alberts BM. Reorganization of the cytoskeleton during Drosophila oogenesis: implications for axis specification and intercellular transport. Development. 1992 Aug;115(4):923–936. [PubMed]
  • Lopez JM, Song K, Hirshfeld AB, Lin H, Wolfner MF. The Drosophila fs(1)Ya protein, which is needed for the first mitotic division, is in the nuclear lamina and in the envelopes of cleavage nuclei, pronuclei, and nonmitotic nuclei. Dev Biol. 1994 May;163(1):202–211. [PubMed]
  • Waring GL. Morphogenesis of the eggshell in Drosophila. Int Rev Cytol. 2000;198:67–108. [PubMed]
  • Mahowald AP, Goralski TJ, Caulton JH. In vitro activation of Drosophila eggs. Dev Biol. 1983 Aug;98(2):437–445. [PubMed]
  • White-Cooper H, Alphey L, Glover DM. The cdc25 homologue twine is required for only some aspects of the entry into meiosis in Drosophila. J Cell Sci. 1993 Dec;106(Pt 4):1035–1044. [PubMed]
  • Page AW, Orr-Weaver TL. The Drosophila genes grauzone and cortex are necessary for proper female meiosis. J Cell Sci. 1996 Jul;109(Pt 7):1707–1715. [PubMed]
  • Yu Jing, Wolfner Mariana F. The Drosophila nuclear lamina protein YA binds to DNA and histone H2B with four domains. Mol Biol Cell. 2002 Feb;13(2):558–569. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Page AW, Orr-Weaver TL. Activation of the meiotic divisions in Drosophila oocytes. Dev Biol. 1997 Mar 15;183(2):195–207. [PubMed]

Articles from Genetics are provided here courtesy of Genetics Society of America


Related citations in PubMed

See reviews...See all...

Cited by other articles in PMC

See all...


  • Gene
    Gene links
  • GEO Profiles
    GEO Profiles
    Related GEO records
  • HomoloGene
    HomoloGene links
  • MedGen
    Related information in MedGen
  • Pathways + GO
    Pathways + GO
    Pathways, annotations and biological systems (BioSystems) that cite the current article.
  • Protein
    Published protein sequences
  • PubMed
    PubMed citations for these articles
  • Taxonomy
    Related taxonomy entry
  • Taxonomy Tree
    Taxonomy Tree

Recent Activity

Your browsing activity is empty.

Activity recording is turned off.

Turn recording back on

See more...