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Development. 2002 Aug;129(15):3705-14.

Oskar anchoring restricts pole plasm formation to the posterior of the Drosophila oocyte.

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Developmental Biology Programme, European Molecular Biology Laboratory, Meyerhofstrasse 1 - 69117 Heidelberg, Germany.

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  • Development 2002 Dec;129(23):5551.


Localization of the maternal determinant Oskar at the posterior pole of Drosophila melanogaster oocyte provides the positional information for pole plasm formation. Spatial control of Oskar expression is achieved through the tight coupling of mRNA localization to translational control, such that only posterior-localized oskar mRNA is translated, producing the two Oskar isoforms Long Osk and Short Osk. We present evidence that this coupling is not sufficient to restrict Oskar to the posterior pole of the oocyte. We show that Long Osk anchors both oskar mRNA and Short Osk, the isoform active in pole plasm assembly, at the posterior pole. In the absence of anchoring by Long Osk, Short Osk disperses into the bulk cytoplasm during late oogenesis, impairing pole cell formation in the embryo. In addition, the pool of untethered Short Osk causes anteroposterior patterning defects, owing to the dispersion of pole plasm and its abdomen-inducing activity throughout the oocyte. We show that the N-terminal extension of Long Osk is necessary but not sufficient for posterior anchoring, arguing for multiple docking elements in Oskar. This study reveals cortical anchoring of the posterior determinant Oskar as a crucial step in pole plasm assembly and restriction, required for proper development of Drosophila melanogaster.

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