Xcat2 RNA is a translationally sequestered germ plasm component in Xenopus

H. MacArthur, M. Bubunenko, D. W. Houston, M. L. King

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


In Xenopus, the inheritance of germ plasm by a small subset of blastomeres during early development is thought to direct these cells into the germ cell lineage. We show that Xcat2 RNA, related to Drosophila nanos, is a germ plasm component that is translationally repressed during oogenesis. Xcat2 protein was not detected in oocytes at times prior to, or after its RNA was localized in germ plasm, suggesting Xcat2 RNA is functionally sequestered soon after transcription. Indeed, Xcat2 RNA is found in a dense non-polysomal compartment in oocytes. Repression of translation was not relieved by substituting the Xcat2 3'UTR with that of β-globin. Immunodetection of Xcat2 protein during blastula and gastrula stages coincides with the time of symmetric segregation of the germ plasm and a net increase in the number of primordial germ cells. Xcat2 is capable of binding RNA in vitro and we propose that it may function to translationally regulate other RNAs specific to primordial germ cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)75-88
Number of pages14
JournalMechanisms of Development
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Differentiation
  • Embryogenesis
  • Germ plasm
  • RNA binding protein
  • RNA localization
  • Translational control
  • Xenopus laevis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Biology
  • Developmental Neuroscience


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