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PLoS Genet. 2019 May 15;15(5):e1008090. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1008090. eCollection 2019 May.

Maternal Nanos inhibits Importin-α2/Pendulin-dependent nuclear import to prevent somatic gene expression in the Drosophila germline.

Author information

1
Life Science Center for Survival Dynamics, Tsukuba Advanced Research Alliance, University of Tsukuba, Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan.
2
Department of Germline Development, Institute of Molecular Embryology and Genetics, Kumamoto University, Kumamoto, Japan.
3
Graduate School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Kumamoto University, Kumamoto, Japan.
4
Graduate School of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Tsukuba, Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan.

Abstract

Repression of somatic gene expression in germline progenitors is one of the critical mechanisms involved in establishing the germ/soma dichotomy. In Drosophila, the maternal Nanos (Nos) and Polar granule component (Pgc) proteins are required for repression of somatic gene expression in the primordial germ cells, or pole cells. Pgc suppresses RNA polymerase II-dependent global transcription in pole cells, but it remains unclear how Nos represses somatic gene expression. Here, we show that Nos represses somatic gene expression by inhibiting translation of maternal importin-α2 (impα2) mRNA. Mis-expression of Impα2 caused aberrant nuclear import of a transcriptional activator, Ftz-F1, which in turn activated a somatic gene, fushi tarazu (ftz), in pole cells when Pgc-dependent transcriptional repression was impaired. Because ftz expression was not fully activated in pole cells in the absence of either Nos or Pgc, we propose that Nos-dependent repression of nuclear import of transcriptional activator(s) and Pgc-dependent suppression of global transcription act as a 'double-lock' mechanism to inhibit somatic gene expression in germline progenitors.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

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