Background: Deubiquitinating enzymes generate monomeric ubiquitin in protein degradation pathways and are known to be important for the early development in many organisms.
Results: RNA interference experiments targeted for a UBP homologue, UCH/CeUBP130, in C. elegans resulted in cell division defective embryos. Immunostaining localized UCH/CeUBP130 in the sperm and at the microtubule-organizing centre (MTOC) during early cleavage. Furthermore, the embryonic lethal phenotype was rescued by mating with wild-type males.
Conclusions: Since it is known that the MTOC in the fertilized embryo is contributed by sperm asters in C. elegans, we suggest that UCH/CeUBP130 and ubiquitin protein degradation pathways may be involved in microtubule-based sperm aster formation. Therefore UCH/CeUBP130 is necessary for the formation of a functional MTOC in the fertilized embryo of C. elegans.