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Development. 2004 Dec;131(23):5897-907.

Par-1 regulates bicoid mRNA localisation by phosphorylating Exuperantia.

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  • 1European Molecular Biology Laboratory, Meyerhofstrasse 1, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany.


The Ser/Thr kinase Par-1 is required for cell polarisation in diverse organisms such as yeast, worms, flies and mammals. During Drosophila oogenesis, Par-1 is required for several polarisation events, including localisation of the anterior determinant bicoid. To elucidate the molecular pathways triggered by Par-1, we have performed a genome-wide, high-throughput screen for Par-1 targets. Among the targets identified in this screen was Exuperantia (Exu), a mediator of bicoid mRNA localisation. We show that Exu is a phosphoprotein whose phosphorylation is dependent on Par-1 in vitro and in vivo. We identify two motifs in Exu that are phosphorylated by Par-1, and show that their mutation abolishes bicoid mRNA localisation during mid-oogenesis. Interestingly, exu mutants in which Exu phosphorylation is specifically affected can to some extent recover from these bicoid mRNA localisation defects during late oogenesis. These results demonstrate that Par-1 establishes polarity in the oocyte by activating a mediator of bicoid mRNA localisation. Furthermore, our analysis reveals two phases of Exu-dependent bicoid mRNA localisation: an early phase that is strictly dependent on Exu phosphorylation and a late phase that is less phosphorylation dependent.

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