Localization of bicoid mRNA in late oocytes is maintained by continual active transport

Dev Cell. 2006 Aug;11(2):251-62. doi: 10.1016/j.devcel.2006.06.006.


Localization of bicoid mRNA to the anterior of the Drosophila oocyte is essential to produce the Bicoid protein gradient that patterns the anterior-posterior axis of the embryo. Previous studies have characterized a microtubule-dependent pathway for bicoid mRNA localization during midoogenesis, when bicoid first accumulates at the anterior. We show that the majority of bicoid is actually localized later in oogenesis, when the only known mechanism for mRNA localization is based on passive trapping. Through live imaging of fluorescently tagged endogenous bicoid mRNA, we identify a temporally distinct pathway for bicoid localization in late oocytes that utilizes a specialized subpopulation of anterior microtubules and dynein. The directional movement of bicoid RNA particles within the oocyte observed here is consistent with dynein-mediated transport. Furthermore, our results indicate that association of bicoid with the anterior oocyte cortex is dynamic and support a model for maintenance of bicoid localization by continual active transport on microtubules.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Actins / physiology
  • Animals
  • Biological Transport, Active / physiology
  • Cytoskeleton / physiology
  • Drosophila
  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental / genetics
  • Homeodomain Proteins / genetics*
  • Homeodomain Proteins / physiology*
  • Microtubules / physiology
  • Models, Biological
  • Oocytes / cytology
  • Oocytes / metabolism
  • Oocytes / physiology*
  • Oogenesis / genetics
  • Oogenesis / physiology
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics*
  • RNA, Messenger / physiology
  • Trans-Activators / genetics*
  • Trans-Activators / physiology*


  • Actins
  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Trans-Activators
  • bcd protein, Drosophila