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Dev Biol. 1995 Jan;167(1):201-12.

The ovarian tumor protein isoforms of Drosophila melanogaster exhibit differences in function, expression, and localization.

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Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 27599-3280.


The Drosophila melanogaster ovarian tumor (otu) gene, required for normal proliferation and differentiation of the female germ-line, encodes two cytoplasmic protein isoforms, 98 and 104 kDa. Mutants with defects in this gene are typically grouped into one of three phenotypic classes: quiescent (germ cells do not proliferate), oncogenic or tumorous (germ-line cells proliferate uncontrollably), and differentiated (germ-line cells initiate but do not complete differentiation). Analysis of transformants expressing only one of the otu isoforms showed that the 104-kDa isoform (otu-104) can rescue all classes of otu mutants, whereas only differentiated mutants are rescued to a significant extent by the 98-kDa isoform (otu-98). Western analysis of protein extracts prepared from ovaries of various developmental stages indicated that otu-104 predominates in predifferentiated stages, while otu-98 is prevalent in differentiated egg chambers. Immunolocalization experiments demonstrated that otu protein is present in the cytoplasm of oogonial stem cells that populate third instar larvae and in all germ-line-derived cells until late in oogenesis. In stage 10 egg chambers, otu protein shifts to the subcortical region of nurse cells. This type of analysis also showed that upon formation of a 16-cell syncytium otu-104, but not otu-98, preferentially accumulates in the developing oocyte cytoplasm. The otu mutant protein does not show this pattern of enhanced accumulation, nor does it occur in ovaries of egalitarian and Bicaudal-D mutants, which are defective in oocyte determination. Thus, these studies indicate that the 104-kDa isoform is required for normal proliferation of female germline cells and perhaps for oocyte differentiation. The 98-kDa isoform appears to be dispensable but can provide an otu function needed for the completion of oocyte maturation.

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