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Dev Genes Evol. 2008 Feb;218(2):107-13. doi: 10.1007/s00427-008-0203-6. Epub 2008 Jan 23.

Localization of Vasa mRNA during early cleavage of the snail Ilyanassa.

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Department of Biology, University of Rochester, Hutchison Hall, River Campus, Rochester, NY 14627-0211, USA.


Members of the Vasa family of helicases are specifically localized to germ line lineages in embryos of many animal groups and, in some cases, have been shown to be required for germ line formation. Despite considerable attention to the embryology of gastropod molluscs, the germ line has not been identified in the early cleavage stages of these embryos. We have cloned a Vasa ortholog in the snail Ilyanassa and examined the distribution of IoVasa mRNA during early cleavage. Initially, the transcript is present in all cells and non-specifically localized to centrosomes in a subset of cells. The IoVasa mRNA becomes progressively more enriched in the dorsal quadrant of the embryo, and then becomes restricted to particular cells in the 4d lineage. At the 64-cell stage, IoVasa mRNA is detected in 4dL11, 4dL12, 4dR11, and 4dR12. Following another round of division in the 4d lineage, the mRNA is restricted to two cells: 4dL121 and 4dR121. By the 108-cell stage, IoVasa mRNA is no longer detectable. Because the germ line is thought to arise from the 4d lineage in spiralians, these data are consistent with the hypothesis that the Ilyanassa germ line is marked by inheritance of IoVasa and derived from the cells 4dL121 and 4dR121. Alternatively, IoVasa may be required in somatic lineages where it is expressed, and the germ line may be specified later in development.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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