A critical role for Xdazl a germ plasm-localized RNA, in the differentiation of primordial germ cells in Xenopus

Douglas W. Houston, Mary Lou King

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

203 Scopus citations


Xdazl is an RNA component of Xenopus germ plasm and encodes an RNA-binding protein that can act as a functional homologue of Drosophila boule. boule is required for entry into meiotic cell division during fly spermatogenesis. Both Xdazl and boule are related to the human DAZ and DAZL, and murine Dazl genes, which are also involved in gamete differentiation. As suggested from its germ plasm localization, we show here that Xdazl is critically involved in PGC development in Xenopus. Xdazl protein is expressed in the cytoplasm, specifically in the germ plasm, from blastula to early tailbud stages. Specific depletion of maternal Xdazl RNA results in tadpoles lacking, or severely deficient in, primordial germ cells (PGCs). In the absence of Xdazl, PGCs do not successfully migrate from the ventral to the dorsal endoderm and do not reach the dorsal mesentery. Germ plasm aggregation and intracellular movements are normal indicating that the defect occurs after PGC formation. We propose that Xdazl is required for early PGC differentiation and is indirectly necessary for the migration of PGCs through the endoderm. As an RNA-binding protein, Xdazl may regulate translation or expression of factors that mediate migration of PGCs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)447-456
Number of pages10
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 1 2000



  • Germ plasm
  • Localized RNA
  • Primordial germ cell
  • RNA-binding protein
  • Xenopus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Cell Biology

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