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Nature. 1987 Jul 2-8;328(6125):80-2.

Translocation of a localized maternal mRNA to the vegetal pole of Xenopus oocytes.


A prominent hypothesis in embryology is that localized maternal factors are important in specifying cell fate. There are, however, only a few examples of maternal molecules that have been shown to be localized and very little is known about how such factors are physically localized within an egg (for review see ref. 1). Previously, cDNA clones were obtained for a class of localized maternal mRNAs from Xenopus laevis. These mRNAs are unusual in that they are concentrated at either the animal or vegetal pole of unfertilized eggs. In the present study the synthesis and intracellular distribution of one of them, Vg1, has been examined during oogenesis. The results show that Vg1 mRNA is localized as a crescent at the vegetal pole of mature oocytes. Surprisingly, this mRNA is uniformly distributed in the cytoplasm of immature oocytes. These findings suggest that a single cell, the frog oocyte, has some mechanism for translocating specific RNAs like Vg1. The process that moves Vg1 mRNA is evidently a cytoplasmic localization machinery which is not directly coupled to the synthesis of Vg1 RNA.

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