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Dev Biol. 2006 Mar 1;291(1):1-11. Epub 2006 Jan 30.

Xenopus Dead end mRNA is a localized maternal determinant that serves a conserved function in germ cell development.

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  • 1Institut für Biochemie und Molekulare Zellbiologie, Georg-August-Universität, Justus-von-Liebig Weg 11, D-37077 Göttingen, Germany.

Abstract

Germ plasm formation is considered to define the first step in germ cell development. Xenopus Dead end represents a germ plasm specific transcript that is homologous to the previously characterized zebrafish dead end, which is required for germ cell migration and survival. XDead end mRNA localizes to the vegetal pole of Xenopus oocytes; in contrast to all other known germ plasm associated transcripts in Xenopus, XDead end is transported via the late transport pathway, suggesting a different mode of germ plasm restriction. Vegetal localization in the oocyte is achieved via a localization element mapping to a 251 nucleotide element in the 3'-UTR. This RNA sequence binds to a set of proteins characteristic for the late localization pathway and to one additional protein of 38 kDa. Inhibition of XDead end translation in Xenopus embryos results in a loss of primordial germ cells at tadpole stages of development. Early specification events do not seem to be affected, but the primordial germ cells fail to migrate dorsally and eventually disappear. This phenotype is very similar to what has been observed in the zebrafish, indicating that the role of XDead end in germ cell development has been conserved in evolution.

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