Localized maternal mRNAs play important roles in embryogenesis, e.g. the establishment of embryonic axes and the developmental cell fate specification, in various animal species. In ascidians, a group of maternal mRNAs, called postplasmic/PEM RNAs, is localized to a subcellular structure, called the Centrosome-Attracting Body (CAB), which contains the ascidian germ plasm, and is inherited by the germline cells during embryogenesis. Posterior end mark (Pem), a postplasmic/PEM RNAs member, represses somatic gene expression in the germline during cleavage stages by inhibition of RNA polymerase II activity. However, the functions of other postplasmic/ PEM RNAs members in germline formation are largely unknown. In this study, we analyzed the functions of two postplasmic/PEM RNAs, Popk-1 and Zf-1, in transcriptional regulation in the germline cells. We show that Popk-1 contributes to transcriptional quiescence by controlling the size of the CAB and amount of Pem protein translated at the CAB. Our studies also indicated that zygotic expression of a germline gene starts around the onset of gastrulation and that the decrease of Pem protein is necessary and sufficient for the zygotic germline gene expression. Finally, further studies showed that the decrease of the Pem protein level is facilitated by Zf-1. Taken together, we propose that postplasmic/PEM RNAs such as Popk-1 and Zf-1 control the protein level of the transcriptional repressor Pem and regulate its transcriptional state in the ascidian germline.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)