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Development. 2009 Sep;136(18):3057-65. doi: 10.1242/dev.036855. Epub 2009 Aug 12.

Vegetally localized Xenopus trim36 regulates cortical rotation and dorsal axis formation.

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  • 1The University of Iowa, Department of Biology, 257 BB, Iowa City, IA 52242, USA.


Specification of the dorsoventral axis in Xenopus depends on rearrangements of the egg vegetal cortex following fertilization, concomitant with activation of Wnt/beta-catenin signaling. How these processes are tied together is not clear, but RNAs localized to the vegetal cortex during oogenesis are known to be essential. Despite their importance, few vegetally localized RNAs have been examined in detail. In this study, we describe the identification of a novel localized mRNA, trim36, and characterize its function through maternal loss-of-function experiments. We find that trim36 is expressed in the germ plasm and encodes a ubiquitin ligase of the Tripartite motif-containing (Trim) family. Depletion of maternal trim36 using antisense oligonucleotides results in ventralized embryos and reduced organizer gene expression. We show that injection of wnt11 mRNA rescues this effect, suggesting that Trim36 functions upstream of Wnt/beta-catenin activation. We further find that vegetal microtubule polymerization and cortical rotation are disrupted in trim36-depleted embryos, in a manner dependent on Trim36 ubiquitin ligase activity. Additionally, these embryos can be rescued by tipping the eggs 90 degrees relative to the animal-vegetal axis. Taken together, our results suggest a role for Trim36 in controlling the stability of proteins regulating microtubule polymerization during cortical rotation, and subsequently axis formation.

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