A mRNA Localized to the Vegetal Cortex of Xenopus Oocytes Encodes a Protein with a Nanos-like Zinc Finger Domain
mRNAs concentrated in specific regions of the oocyte have been found to encode determinants that specify cell fate. We show that an intermediate filament fraction isolated from Xenopus stage VI oocytes specifically contains, in addition to Vg1 RNA, a new localized mRNA, Xcat-2. Like Vg1, Xcat-2 is found in the vegetal cortical region, is inherited by the vegetal blasomeres during development, and is degraded very early in development. Sequence analysis suggests that Xcat-2 encodes a protein that belongs to the CCHC RNA-binding family of zinc finger proteins. Interestingly, the closest known relative to Xcat-2 in this family is nanos, an RNA localized to the posterior pole of the Drosophila oocyte whose protein product suppresses the translation of the transcription factor hunchback. The localized and maternally restricted expression of Xcat-2 RNA suggests a role for its protein in setting up regional differences in gene expression that occur early in development.
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