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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2007 Apr 17;104(16):6714-9. Epub 2007 Apr 11.

Unique germ-line organelle, nuage, functions to repress selfish genetic elements in Drosophila melanogaster.

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  • 1Germ-Line Biology Laboratory, Temasek Life Sciences Laboratory and Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore, 1 Research Link, Singapore.

Erratum in

  • Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2007 Dec 11;104(50):20143.


The nuage is an electron-dense perinuclear structure that is known to be a hallmark of animal germ-line cells. Although the conservation of the nuage throughout evolution accentuates its essentiality, its role(s) and the exact mechanism(s) by which it functions in the germ line still remain unknown. Here, we report a nuage component, Krimper (KRIMP), in Drosophila melanogaster and show that it ensures the repression of the selfish genetic elements in the female germ line. The Krimp loss-of-function allele exhibited female sterility, defects in karyosome formation and oocyte polarity, and precocious osk translation. These phenotypes are commonly observed in the other nuage component mutants, vasa (vas) and maelstrom (mael), and the RNA-silencing component mutants, spindle-E (spn-E) and aubergine (aub), suggesting a shared underlying defect that uses RNA silencing. Moreover, we demonstrated that the localization of the nuage components depends on both SPN-E and AUB and that the selfish genetic elements were derepressed to different extents in the nuage component mutants, as well as in aub and armitage (armi) mutants. In the nuage component mutants, vas, krimp, and mael, the levels of roo, I-element, and HeT-A repeat-associated small interfering RNAs were greatly reduced. Hence, our data suggest that the nuage functions as a specialized center that protects the genome in the germ-line cells via gene regulation mediated by repeat-associated small interfering RNAs.

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