Distinct mechanisms for mRNA localization during embryonic axis specification in the wasp Nasonia

Dev Biol. 2007 Jun 1;306(1):134-42. doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2007.03.012. Epub 2007 Mar 14.


mRNA localization is a powerful mechanism for targeting factors to different regions of the cell and is used in Drosophila to pattern the early embryo. During oogenesis of the wasp Nasonia, mRNA localization is used extensively to replace the function of the Drosophila bicoid gene for the initiation of patterning along the antero-posterior axis. Nasonia localizes both caudal and nanos to the posterior pole, whereas giant mRNA is localized to the anterior pole of the oocyte; orthodenticle1 (otd1) is localized to both the anterior and posterior poles. The abundance of differentially localized mRNAs during Nasonia oogenesis provided a unique opportunity to study the different mechanisms involved in mRNA localization. Through pharmacological disruption of the microtubule network, we found that both anterior otd1 and giant, as well as posterior caudal mRNA localization was microtubule-dependent. Conversely, posterior otd1 and nanos mRNA localized correctly to the posterior upon microtubule disruption. However, actin is important in anchoring these two posteriorly localized mRNAs to the oosome, the structure containing the pole plasm. Moreover, we find that knocking down the functions of the genes tudor and Bicaudal-D mimics disruption of microtubules, suggesting that tudor's function in Nasonia is different from flies, where it is involved in formation of the pole plasm.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Actins / genetics
  • Animals
  • Body Patterning / genetics*
  • Cell Polarity
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins / genetics
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian / metabolism
  • Female
  • Genes, Insect
  • Insect Proteins / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Insect Proteins / genetics*
  • Microtubules / metabolism
  • Oocytes / chemistry
  • Oocytes / metabolism*
  • Oocytes / ultrastructure
  • Oogenesis / genetics*
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism*
  • Wasps / chemistry
  • Wasps / embryology*
  • Wasps / genetics


  • Actins
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins
  • Insect Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger