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Dev Biol. 2004 Mar 1;267(1):60-71.

Hermes is a localized factor regulating cleavage of vegetal blastomeres in Xenopus laevis.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Genetics, The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX 77030, USA.


We have identified the RNA-binding protein Hermes in a screen for vegetally localized RNAs in Xenopus oocytes. The RNA localizes to the vegetal cortex through both the message transport organizer (METRO) and late pathways. Hermes mRNA and protein are both detected at the vegetal cortex of the oocyte; however, the protein is degraded within a several hour period during oocyte maturation. Injection of antisense morpholino oligonucleotides (HE-MO) against Hermes caused a precocious reduction in Hermes protein present during maturation and resulted in a phenotype characterized by cleavage defects in vegetal blastomeres. The phenotype can be partially rescued by injecting Hermes mRNA. These results demonstrate that the localized RNA-binding protein Hermes functions during oocyte maturation to regulate the cleavage of specific vegetally derived cell lineages. Hermes most likely performs its function by regulating the translation or processing of one or more target RNAs. This is an important mechanism by which the embryo can generate unique cell lineages. The regulation of region-specific cell division is a novel function for a localized mRNA.

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