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Development. 2002 Jan;129(2):517-26.

Rab11 polarization of the Drosophila oocyte: a novel link between membrane trafficking, microtubule organization, and oskar mRNA localization and translation.

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Department of Molecular Biosciences, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS 66045, USA.


The Drosophila embryonic body plan is specified by asymmetries that arise in the oocyte during oogenesis. These asymmetries are apparent in the subcellular distribution of key mRNAs and proteins and in the organization of the microtubule cytoskeleton. We present evidence that the Drosophila oocyte also contains important asymmetries in its membrane trafficking pathways. Specifically, we show that alpha-adaptin and Rab11, which function critically in the endocytic pathways of all previously examined animal cells, are localized to neighboring compartments at the posterior pole of stage 8-10 oocytes. Rab11 and alpha-adaptin localization occurs in the absence of a polarized microtubule cytoskeleton, i.e. in grk null mutants, but is later reinforced and/or refined by Osk, the localization of which is microtubule dependent. Analyses of germline clones of a rab11 partial loss-of-function mutation reveal a requirement for Rab11 in endocytic recycling and in the organization of posterior membrane compartments. Such analyses also reveal a requirement for Rab11 in the organization of microtubule plus ends and osk mRNA localization and translation. We propose that microtubule plus ends and, possibly, translation factors for osk mRNA are anchored to posterior membrane compartments that are defined by Rab11-mediated trafficking and reinforced by Rab11-Osk interactions.

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