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Curr Biol. 2005 Feb 22;15(4):295-302.

Cell divisions in the drosophila embryonic mesoderm are repressed via posttranscriptional regulation of string/cdc25 by HOW.

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Department of Molecular Genetics, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot 76100, Israel.



Cell-cycle progression is tightly regulated during embryonic development. In the Drosophila early embryo, the levels of String/Cdc25 define the precise timing and sites of cell divisions. However, cell-cycle progression is arrested in the mesoderm of gastrulating embryos despite a positive transcriptional string/cdc25 activation provided by the mesoderm-specific action of Twist. Whereas String/Cdc25 is negatively regulated by Tribbles in the mesoderm at these embryonic stages, the factor(s) controlling string/cdc25 mRNA levels has yet to be elucidated.


Here, we show that the repressor isoform of the Drosophila RNA binding protein Held Out Wing [HOW(L)] is required to inhibit mesodermal cell division during gastrulation. Embryos mutant for how exhibited an excess of cell divisions, leading to delayed mesoderm invagination. The levels of the mitotic activator string/cdc25 mRNA in these embryos were significantly elevated. Protein-RNA precipitation experiments show that HOW(L) binds string/cdc25 mRNA. Overexpression of HOW(L) in Schneider cells reduces specifically the steady-state mRNA levels of a gfp reporter fused to string/cdc25 untranslated region (3'UTR).


Our results suggest that in wild-type embryos, string/cdc25 mRNA levels are downregulated by the repressor isoform HOW(L), which binds directly to string/cdc25 mRNA and regulates its degradation. Thus, we are proposing a novel posttranscriptional mechanism controlling cell-cycle progression in the Drosophila embryo.

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