Organization of cytokeratin cytoskeleton and germ plasm in the vegetal cortex of Xenopus laevis oocytes depends on coding and non-coding RNAs: three-dimensional and ultrastructural analysis

Exp Cell Res. 2007 May 1;313(8):1639-51. doi: 10.1016/j.yexcr.2007.02.018. Epub 2007 Feb 28.


Recent studies discovered a novel structural role of RNA in maintaining the integrity of the mitotic spindle and cellular cytoskeleton. In Xenopus laevis, non-coding Xlsirts and coding VegT RNAs play a structural role in anchoring localized RNAs, maintaining the organization of the cytokeratin cytoskeleton and germinal granules in the oocyte vegetal cortex and in subsequent development of the germline in the embryo. We studied the ultrastructural effects of antisense oligonucleotide driven ablation of Xlsirts and VegT RNAs on the organization of the cytokeratin, germ plasm and other components of the vegetal cortex. We developed a novel method to immunolabel and visualize cytokeratin at the electron microscopy level, which allowed us to reconstruct the ultrastructural organization of the cytokeratin network relative to the components of the vegetal cortex in Xenopus oocytes. The removal of Xlsirts and VegT RNAs not only disrupts the cytokeratin cytoskeleton but also has a profound transcript-specific effect on the anchoring and distribution of germ plasm islands and their germinal granules and the arrangement of yolk platelets within the vegetal cortex. We suggest that the cytokeratin cytoskeleton plays a role in anchoring of germ plasm islands within the vegetal cortex and germinal granules within the germ plasm islands.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cytoplasm / metabolism
  • Cytoplasm / ultrastructure
  • Cytoskeleton / metabolism
  • Cytoskeleton / ultrastructure*
  • Female
  • Keratins / metabolism*
  • Keratins / ultrastructure
  • Microscopy, Electron, Transmission
  • Oligonucleotides, Antisense / metabolism
  • Oocytes / metabolism
  • Oocytes / ultrastructure*
  • Oogenesis
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism*
  • RNA, Untranslated / metabolism*
  • Sirtuins / metabolism
  • T-Box Domain Proteins / metabolism
  • Xenopus Proteins / metabolism
  • Xenopus laevis


  • Oligonucleotides, Antisense
  • RNA, Messenger
  • RNA, Untranslated
  • T-Box Domain Proteins
  • VegT protein, Xenopus
  • Xenopus Proteins
  • Keratins
  • Sirtuins