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Cell. 1994 Apr 22;77(2):183-94.

Translational control of maternal glp-1 mRNA establishes an asymmetry in the C. elegans embryo.

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Laboratory of Molecular Biology, University of Wisconsin, Madison 53706.


In C. elegans, the glp-1 gene encodes a membrane receptor that is required for anterior cell fates in the early embryo. We report that GLP-1 protein is localized to anterior blastomeres in 2- to 28-cell embryos. By contrast, glp-1 mRNA is present in all blastomeres until the 8-cell stage. Furthermore, the glp-1 3' untranslated region can restrict translation of a reporter mRNA to anterior blastomeres. Therefore, the translation of maternal glp-1 mRNA is temporally and spatially regulated in the C. elegans embryo. The regulation of maternal glp-1 mRNA has striking parallels to the regulation of maternal hunchback mRNA in the Drosophila embryo. Thus, the establishment of embryonic asymmetry in diverse organisms may involve conserved mechanisms of maternal mRNA regulation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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