Liquid-to-solid phase transition of oskar ribonucleoprotein granules is essential for their function in Drosophila embryonic development

Cell. 2022 Apr 14;185(8):1308-1324.e23. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2022.02.022. Epub 2022 Mar 23.


Asymmetric localization of oskar ribonucleoprotein (RNP) granules to the oocyte posterior is crucial for abdominal patterning and germline formation in the Drosophila embryo. We show that oskar RNP granules in the oocyte are condensates with solid-like physical properties. Using purified oskar RNA and scaffold proteins Bruno and Hrp48, we confirm in vitro that oskar granules undergo a liquid-to-solid phase transition. Whereas the liquid phase allows RNA incorporation, the solid phase precludes incorporation of additional RNA while allowing RNA-dependent partitioning of client proteins. Genetic modification of scaffold granule proteins or tethering the intrinsically disordered region of human fused in sarcoma (FUS) to oskar mRNA allowed modulation of granule material properties in vivo. The resulting liquid-like properties impaired oskar localization and translation with severe consequences on embryonic development. Our study reflects how physiological phase transitions shape RNA-protein condensates to regulate the localization and expression of a maternal RNA that instructs germline formation.

Keywords: RNA localization; RNP granules; biomolecular condensates; embryonic development; material properties; oskar mRNA; phase separation; ribonucleoprotein granules; translation control.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cytoplasmic Ribonucleoprotein Granules
  • Drosophila / embryology
  • Drosophila / metabolism*
  • Drosophila Proteins / genetics
  • Drosophila Proteins / metabolism*
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian / metabolism*
  • Embryonic Development
  • Oocytes / metabolism
  • RNA / metabolism


  • Drosophila Proteins
  • osk protein, Drosophila
  • RNA