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Mech Dev. 2007 Apr;124(4):279-89. Epub 2007 Jan 13.

Spatiotemporal localization of germ plasm RNAs during zebrafish oogenesis.

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Department of Biology, Graduate School of Science and Technology, Kobe University, 1-1 Rokkodaicho, Nadaku, Kobe 657-8501, Japan.


In zebrafish, primordial germ cells (PGCs) are determined by a specialized maternal cytoplasm, the germ plasm, which forms at the distal ends of the cleavage furrows in 4-cell embryos. The germ plasm includes maternal mRNAs from the germline-specific genes such as vasa and nanos1, and vegetally localized dazl RNA is also incorporated into the germ plasm. However, little is known about the distributions and assembly mechanisms of germ plasm components, especially during oogenesis. Here we report that the germ plasm RNAs vasa, nanos1, and dazl co-localize with the mitochondrial cloud (MC) and are transported to the vegetal cortex during early oogenesis. We found that a mitochondrial cloud localization element (MCLE) previously identified in the 3' untranslated region (3'UTR) of Xenopus Xcat2 gene can direct RNA localization to the vegetal cortex via the MC in zebrafish oocytes. In addition, the RNA-binding protein Hermes is a component of the MC in zebrafish oocytes, as is the case in Xenopus. Moreover, we provide evidence that the dazl 3'UTR possesses at least three types of cis-acting elements that direct multiple steps in the localization process: MC localization, anchorage at the vegetal cortex, and localization at the cleavage furrows. Taken together, the data show that the MC functions as a conserved feature that participates in transport of the germ plasm RNAs in Xenopus and zebrafish oocytes. Furthermore, we propose that the germ plasm components are assembled in a stepwise and spatiotemporally-regulated manner during oogenesis and early embryogenesis in zebrafish.

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