Synthesis of heterogeneous mRNA-like RNA and low-molecular-weight RNA before the midblastula transition in embryos of Xenopus laevis

Dev Biol. 1987 Oct;123(2):421-9. doi: 10.1016/0012-1606(87)90400-3.


It has been proposed and is now widely accepted that in Xenopus laevis embryogenesis RNA synthesis starts only at and after 12 rounds of cleavage, at the time of the midblastula transition (MBT). In this report, however, we provide evidence that RNA synthesis takes place prior to the MBT stage in normally developing Xenopus embryos. In the present experiments, we cultured fertilized eggs in 80 mM phosphate buffer and loosened the adhesion between blastomeres, so that [3H]uridine could be incorporated into blastomeres from the surrounding medium. By this method and also by microinjection of [3H]GTP, we found that embryos synthesize heterogeneous, nonribosomal, high-molecular-weight RNAs and a relatively small amount of low-molecular-weight RNA as early as the sixth cleavage. RNAs synthesized were not of mitochondrial origin, and the synthesis was sensitive to actinomycin D and alpha-amanitin. From these results we conclude that mRNA-like RNA and low-molecular-weight RNA start to be synthesized during the cleavage stage.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amanitins / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Blastocyst / cytology
  • Blastocyst / physiology*
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian / cytology
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian / physiology
  • Kinetics
  • Organ Culture Techniques
  • RNA / biosynthesis*
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics*
  • Transcription, Genetic / drug effects
  • Tritium
  • Uridine / metabolism
  • Xenopus laevis / embryology*


  • Amanitins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Tritium
  • RNA
  • Uridine