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Dev Biol. 2009 Dec 1;336(1):96-111. doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2009.09.001. Epub 2009 Sep 6.

Cortical anchorages and cell type segregations of maternal postplasmic/PEM RNAs in ascidians.

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  • 1Université Pierre et Marie Curie and Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, BioMarCell, UMR7009 BioDev, Observatoire Océanologique, Villefranche-sur-mer, 06234, France.


Ascidian postplasmic/PEM RNAs constitute a large class of cortical maternal RNAs which include developmental determinants (macho-1 and pem-1). We have analyzed the localization, cortical anchorage and cell type segregation of postplasmic/PEM RNAs in Ciona intestinalis and Phallusia mammillata using very high-resolution fluorescent in situ hybridization. We also compared RNAs extracted from whole oocytes and from isolated cortices using microarrays and localized RNAs possessing clusters of xCACx motifs in their 3'UTRs. Based on these combined approaches we conclude that: (1) the vast majority of the 39 postplasmic/PEM RNAs (including vasa) are localized in the egg cortex. (2) Many postplasmic/PEM RNAs 3'UTR are enriched in xCACx motifs, allowing us to identify 2 novel postplasmic/PEM RNAs (PSD and MnK). (3) Postplasmic/PEM RNAs anchored to cortical Endoplasmic Reticulum (cER) and those associated with granules have different cell destinations. We propose that there are 2 distinct categories of postplasmic/PEM RNAs on the basis of their cortical anchorages and cell destinations: (1) macho-1-like postplasmic/PEM RNAs anchored to cER which segregate into somatic B8.11 cells. (2) vasa-like postplasmic/PEM RNAs associated with granules which in addition to B8.11 cells segregate into B8.12 germ cells.

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