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Mol Reprod Dev. 2014 Oct;81(10):946-61. doi: 10.1002/mrd.22414. Epub 2014 Sep 25.

Zebrafish vasa is required for germ-cell differentiation and maintenance.

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Department of Developmental and Molecular Biology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Yeshiva University, Bronx, New York.


Vasa is a universal marker of the germ line in animals, yet mutations disrupting vasa cause sexually dimorphic infertility, with impaired development of the ovary in some animals and the testis in others. The basis for this sexually dimorphic requirement for Vasa is not clear; in most animals examined, both the male and female gonad express vasa throughout the life of the germ line. Here we characterized a loss-of-function mutation disrupting zebrafish vasa. We show that maternally provided Vasa is stable through the first ten days of development in zebrafish, and thus likely fulfills any early roles for Vasa during germ-line specification, migration, survival, and maintenance. Although zygotic Vasa is not essential for the development of juvenile gonads, vasa mutants develop exclusively as sterile males. Furthermore, phenotypes of vasa;p53 compound mutants are indistinguishable from those of vasa mutants, therefore the failure of vasa mutants to differentiate as females and to support germ-cell development in the testis is not due to p53-mediated apoptosis. Instead, we found that failure to progress beyond the pachytene stage of meiosis causes the loss of germ-line stem cells, leaving empty somatic tubules. Our studies provide insight into the function of zebrafish vasa during female meiosis, differentiation, and maintenance of germ-line stem cells.

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