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Development. 2010 Nov;137(22):3813-21. doi: 10.1242/dev.054213. Epub 2010 Oct 7.

Novel modes of localization and function of nanos in the wasp Nasonia.

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Center for Developmental Genetics, Department of Biology, New York University, New York, NY 10003, USA.


Abdominal patterning in Drosophila requires the function of nanos (nos) to prevent translation of hunchback (hb) mRNA in the posterior of the embryo. nos function is restricted to the posterior by the translational repression of mRNA that is not incorporated into the posteriorly localized germ plasm during oogenesis. The wasp Nasonia vitripennis (Nv) undergoes a long germ mode of development very similar to Drosophila, although the molecular patterning mechanisms employed in these two organisms have diverged significantly, reflecting the independent evolution of this mode of development. Here, we report that although Nv nanos (Nv-nos) has a conserved function in embryonic patterning through translational repression of hb, the timing and mechanisms of this repression are significantly delayed in the wasp compared with the fly. This delay in Nv-nos function appears to be related to the dynamic behavior of the germ plasm in Nasonia, as well as to the maternal provision of Nv-Hb protein during oogenesis. Unlike in flies, there appears to be two functional populations of Nv-nos mRNA: one that is concentrated in the oosome and is taken up into the pole cells before evidence of Nv-hb repression is observed; another that forms a gradient at the posterior and plays a role in Nv-hb translational repression. Altogether, our results show that, although the embryonic patterning function of nos orthologs is broadly conserved, the mechanisms employed to achieve this function are distinct.

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