Localization of nanos RNA controls embryonic polarity

Cell. 1992 Oct 16;71(2):301-13. doi: 10.1016/0092-8674(92)90358-j.


Anterior-posterior polarity of the Drosophila embryo is initiated during oogenesis through differential maternal RNA localization. The RNA of the anterior morphogen bicoid is localized to the anterior pole of the embryo, where bicoid protein controls head and thorax development. The RNA of the posterior morphogen nanos is localized to the posterior pole, where nanos protein is required for abdomen formation. Here we show that the nanos 3' untranslated region, like that of the bicoid RNA, is sufficient for RNA localization. We have used the bicoid RNA localization signal to mislocalize nanos, producing embryos with two sources of nanos protein. Such embryos form two abdomens with mirror image symmetry. Embryos with nanos RNA localized only to the anterior have greater nanos gene activity than embryos with nanos RNA localized posteriorly. We propose a role for RNA localization in regulating nanos activity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Abdomen / embryology
  • Animals
  • Cell Polarity*
  • Drosophila Proteins*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / embryology*
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Insect Hormones / genetics
  • Insect Hormones / metabolism*
  • Oocytes
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism*
  • RNA-Binding Proteins*


  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Insect Hormones
  • RNA, Messenger
  • RNA-Binding Proteins
  • nos protein, Drosophila