Two pathways of maternal RNA localization at the posterior-vegetal cytoplasm in early ascidian embryos

Dev Biol. 2000 Apr 15;220(2):365-78. doi: 10.1006/dbio.2000.9626.


A cDNA library prepared from fertilized eggs of the ascidian Halocynthia roretzi was screened for prelocalized mRNAs in the early embryo by means of whole-mount in situ hybridization using a digoxigenin-labeled antisense RNA of each clone. Random mass screening of 150 cDNAs in a fertilized egg yielded six different clones which showed mRNA localization in the posterior-vegetal cytoplasm of the 8-cell embryo. An in situ hybridization study of the detailed spatial distribution of each mRNA in embryos of various stages revealed that there are, in contrast to the identical localization in embryos after the 16-cell stage, two distinct patterns of RNA distribution at earlier stages. One is colocalization with the myoplasm from the prefertilization stage to the 8-cell stage (type I postplasmic RNAs). The other is delayed accumulation of RNA at the posterior-vegetal cytoplasm after fertilization (type II postplasmic RNAs). We found that both types of RNAs associate with the cytoskeleton, but that they show different sensitivities to inhibitors of the cytoskeleton; translocation of the type I RNAs is dependent upon microfilaments during the first phase of ooplasmic segregation and dependent upon microtubules during the second phase of segregation, whereas translocation of the type II RNAs is dependent upon microfilaments throughout ooplasmic segregation. These results show that there are two pathways for the localization of the RNAs at the posterior-vegetal cytoplasm in the 8-cell embryo of the ascidian H. roretzi.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Blotting, Northern
  • Cleavage Stage, Ovum
  • Cytoplasm / genetics
  • Cytoplasm / metabolism*
  • Cytoskeleton / metabolism
  • DNA, Complementary / metabolism
  • Gene Library
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Ovum / metabolism
  • RNA / metabolism*
  • Urochordata / embryology*
  • Urochordata / genetics


  • DNA, Complementary
  • RNA