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Ephrussi GroupPublications

Brightness through Local Constraint?LNA-Enhanced FIT Hybridization Probes for In Vivo Ribonucleotide Particle Tracking.
Hövelmann, F., Gaspar, I., Loibl, S., Ermilov, E. A., Röder, B., Wengel, J., Ephrussi, A. & Seitz, O.
Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2014
Imaging the dynamics of RNA in living cells is usually performed by means of transgenic approaches that require modification of RNA targets and cells. Fluorogenic hybridization probes would also allow the analysis of wild-type organisms. We developed nuclease-resistant DNA forced intercalation (FIT) probes that combine the high enhancement of fluorescence upon hybridization with the high brightness required to allow tracking of individual ribonucleotide particles (RNPs). In our design, a single thiazole orange (TO) intercalator dye is linked as a nucleobase surrogate and an adjacent locked nucleic acid (LNA) unit serves to introduce a local constraint. This closes fluorescence decay channels and thereby increases the brightness of the probe?target duplexes. As few as two probes were sufficient to enable the tracking of oskar mRNPs in wild-type living Drosophila melanogaster oocytes.

Considerations when investigating lncRNA function in vivo.
Bassett, A.R., Akhtar, A., Barlow, D.P., Bird, A.P., Brockdorff, N., Duboule, D., Ephrussi, A., Ferguson-Smith, A.C., Gingeras, T.R., Haerty, W., Higgs, D.R., Miska, E.A. & Ponting, C.P.
Elife. 2014 Aug 14;3:e03058. doi: 10.7554/eLife.03058.
Although a small number of the vast array of animal long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) have known effects on cellular processes examined in vitro, the extent of their contributions to normal cell processes throughout development, differentiation and disease for the most part remains less clear. Phenotypes arising from deletion of an entire genomic locus cannot be unequivocally attributed either to the loss of the lncRNA per se or to the associated loss of other overlapping DNA regulatory elements. The distinction between cis- or trans-effects is also often problematic. We discuss the advantages and challenges associated with the current techniques for studying the in vivo function of lncRNAs in the light of different models of lncRNA molecular mechanism, and reflect on the design of experiments to mutate lncRNA loci. These considerations should assist in the further investigation of these transcriptional products of the genome.DOI:
Europe PMC

Klar ensures thermal robustness of oskar localization by restraining RNP motility.
Gaspar, I., Yu, Y.V., Cotton, S.L., Kim, D.H., Ephrussi, A. & Welte, M.A.
J Cell Biol. 2014 Jul 21;206(2):199-215. doi: 10.1083/jcb.201310010.
Communication usually applies feedback loop-based filters and amplifiers to ensure undistorted delivery of messages. Such an amplifier acts during Drosophila melanogaster midoogenesis, when oskar messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) anchoring depends on its own locally translated protein product. We find that the motor regulator Klar beta mediates a gain-control process that prevents saturation-based distortions in this positive feedback loop. We demonstrate that, like oskar mRNA, Klar beta localizes to the posterior pole of oocytes in a kinesin-1-dependent manner. By live imaging and semiquantitative fluorescent in situ hybridization, we show that Klar beta restrains oskar ribonucleoprotein motility and decreases the posterior-ward translocation of oskar mRNA, thereby adapting the rate of oskar delivery to the output of the anchoring machinery. This negative regulatory effect of Klar is particularly important for overriding temperature-induced changes in motility. We conclude that by preventing defects in oskar anchoring, this mechanism contributes to the developmental robustness of a poikilothermic organism living in a variable temperature environment.
Europe PMC

RNA clamping by Vasa assembles a piRNA amplifier complex on transposon transcripts.
Xiol, J., Spinelli, P., Laussmann, M.A., Homolka, D., Yang, Z., Cora, E., Coute, Y., Conn, S., Kadlec, J., Sachidanandam, R., Kaksonen, M., Cusack, S., Ephrussi, A. & Pillai, R.S.
Cell. 2014 Jun 19;157(7):1698-711. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2014.05.018. Epub 2014 Jun5.
Germline-specific Piwi-interacting RNAs (piRNAs) protect animal genomes against transposons and are essential for fertility. piRNAs targeting active transposons are amplified by the ping-pong cycle, which couples Piwi endonucleolytic slicing of target RNAs to biogenesis of new piRNAs. Here, we describe the identification of a transient Amplifier complex that mediates biogenesis of secondary piRNAs in insect cells. Amplifier is nucleated by the DEAD box RNA helicase Vasa and contains the two Piwi proteins participating in the ping-pong loop, the Tudor protein Qin/Kumo and antisense piRNA guides. These components assemble on the surface of Vasa's helicase domain, which functions as an RNA clamp to anchor Amplifier onto transposon transcripts. We show that ATP-dependent RNP remodeling by Vasa facilitates transfer of 5' sliced piRNA precursors between ping-pong partners, and loss of this activity causes sterility in Drosophila. Our results reveal the molecular basis for the small RNA amplification that confers adaptive immunity against transposons.
Europe PMC

The EJC Binding and Dissociating Activity of PYM Is Regulated in Drosophila.
Ghosh, S., Obrdlik, A., Marchand, V. & Ephrussi, A.
PLoS Genet. 2014 Jun 26;10(6):e1004455. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1004455.eCollection 2014 Jun.
In eukaryotes, RNA processing events in the nucleus influence the fate of transcripts in the cytoplasm. The multi-protein exon junction complex (EJC) associates with mRNAs concomitant with splicing in the nucleus and plays important roles in export, translation, surveillance and localization of mRNAs in the cytoplasm. In mammalian cells, the ribosome associated protein PYM (HsPYM) binds the Y14-Mago heterodimer moiety of the EJC core, and disassembles EJCs, presumably during the pioneer round of translation. However, the significance of the association of the EJC with mRNAs in a physiological context has not been tested and the function of PYM in vivo remains unknown. Here we address PYM function in Drosophila, where the EJC core proteins are genetically required for oskar mRNA localization during oogenesis. We provide evidence that the EJC binds oskar mRNA in vivo. Using an in vivo transgenic approach, we show that elevated amounts of the Drosophila PYM (DmPYM) N-terminus during oogenesis cause dissociation of EJCs from oskar RNA, resulting in its mislocalization and consequent female sterility. We find that, in contrast to HsPYM, DmPYM does not interact with the small ribosomal subunit and dismantles EJCs in a translation-independent manner upon over-expression. Biochemical analysis shows that formation of the PYM-Y14-Mago ternary complex is modulated by the PYM C-terminus revealing that DmPYM function is regulated in vivo. Furthermore, we find that whereas under normal conditions DmPYM is dispensable, its loss of function is lethal to flies with reduced y14 or mago gene dosage. Our analysis demonstrates that the amount of DmPYM relative to the EJC proteins is critical for viability and fertility. This, together with the fact that the EJC-disassembly activity of DmPYM is regulated, implicates PYM as an effector of EJC homeostasis in vivo.
Europe PMC

A stem-loop structure directs oskar mRNA to microtubule minus ends.
Jambor, H., Mueller, S., Bullock, S.L. & Ephrussi, A.
RNA. 2014;20(4):429-39. doi: 10.1261/rna.041566.113. Epub 2014 Feb 26.
mRNA transport coupled with translational control underlies the intracellular localization of many proteins in eukaryotic cells. This is exemplified in Drosophila, where oskar mRNA transport and translation at the posterior pole of the oocyte direct posterior patterning of the embryo. oskar localization is a multistep process. Within the oocyte, a spliced oskar localization element (SOLE) targets oskar mRNA for plus end-directed transport by kinesin-1 to the posterior pole. However, the signals mediating the initial minus end-directed, dynein-dependent transport of the mRNA from nurse cells into the oocyte have remained unknown. Here, we show that a 67-nt stem-loop in the oskar 3' UTR promotes oskar mRNA delivery to the developing oocyte and that it shares functional features with the fs(1)K10 oocyte localization signal. Thus, two independent cis-acting signals, the oocyte entry signal (OES) and the SOLE, mediate sequential dynein- and kinesin-dependent phases of oskar mRNA transport during oogenesis. The OES also promotes apical localization of injected RNAs in blastoderm stage embryos, another dynein-mediated process. Similarly, when ectopically expressed in polarized cells of the follicular epithelium or salivary glands, reporter RNAs bearing the oskar OES are apically enriched, demonstrating that this element promotes mRNA localization independently of cell type. Our work sheds new light on how oskar mRNA is trafficked during oogenesis and the RNA features that mediate minus end-directed transport.
Europe PMC

Imp promotes axonal remodeling by regulating profilin mRNA during brain development.
Medioni, C., Ramialison, M., Ephrussi, A. & Besse, F.
Curr Biol. 2014 Mar 31;24(7):793-800. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2014.02.038. Epub 2014Mar 20.
Neuronal remodeling is essential for the refinement of neuronal circuits in response to developmental cues [1-4]. Although this process involves pruning or retraction of axonal projections followed by axonal regrowth and branching, how these steps are controlled is poorly understood. Drosophila mushroom body (MB) gamma neurons provide a paradigm for the study of neuronal remodeling, as their larval axonal branches are pruned during metamorphosis and re-extend to form adult-specific branches [5]. Here, we identify the RNA binding protein Imp as a key regulator of axonal remodeling. Imp is the sole fly member of a conserved family of proteins that bind target mRNAs to promote their subcellular targeting [6-12]. We show that whereas Imp is dispensable for the initial growth of MB gamma neuron axons, it is required for the regrowth and ramification of axonal branches that have undergone pruning. Furthermore, Imp is actively transported to axons undergoing developmental remodeling. Finally, we demonstrate that profilin mRNA is a direct and functional target of Imp that localizes to axons and controls axonal regrowth. Our study reveals that mRNA localization machineries are actively recruited to axons upon remodeling and suggests a role of mRNA transport in developmentally programmed rewiring of neuronal circuits during brain maturation.
Europe PMC

Brightness Enhanced DNA FIT-Probes for Wash-Free RNA Imaging in Tissue.
Hovelmann, F., Gaspar, I., Ephrussi, A. & Seitz, O.
J Am Chem Soc. 2013 Dec 18;135(50):19025-32. doi: 10.1021/ja410674h. Epub 2013Dec 10.
Fluorogenic oligonucleotides enable RNA imaging in cells and tissues. A high responsiveness of fluorescence is required when unbound probes cannot be washed away. Furthermore, emission should be bright in order to enable detection against autofluorescent background. The development of fluorescence-quenched hybridization probes has led to remarkable improvement of fluorescence responsiveness. Yet, comparably little attention has been paid to the brightness of smart probes. We describe hybridization probes that combine responsiveness with a high brightness of the measured signal. The method relies upon quencher-free DNA forced intercalation (FIT)-probes, in which two (or more) intercalator dyes of the thiazole orange (TO) family serve as nucleobase surrogates. Initial experiments on multi-TO-labeled probes led to improvements of responsiveness, but self-quenching limited their brightness. To enhance both brightness and responsiveness the highly responsive TO nucleoside was combined with the highly emissive oxazolopyridine analogue JO. Single-stranded TO/JO FIT-probes are dark. In the probe-target duplex, quenching caused by torsional twisting and dye-dye contact is prevented. The TO nucleoside appears to serve as a light collector that increases the extinction coefficient and transfers excitation energy to the JO emitter. This leads to very bright JO emission upon hybridization (F/F0 = 23, brightness = 43 mL mol(-1) cm(-1) at lambdaex = 516 nm). TO/JO FIT-probes allowed the direct fluorescence microscopic imaging of oskar mRNA within a complex tissue. Of note, RNA imaging was feasible under wide-field excitation conditions. The described protocol enables rapid RNA imaging in tissue without the need for cutting-edge equipment, time-consuming washing, or signal amplification.
Europe PMC

A single Drosophila embryo extract for the study of mitosis ex vivo.
Telley, I.A., Gaspar, I., Ephrussi, A. & Surrey, T.
Nat Protoc. 2013 Jan 17;8(2):310-24. doi: 10.1038/nprot.2013.003. Epub 2013 Jan17.
Spindle assembly and chromosome segregation rely on a complex interplay of biochemical and mechanical processes. Analysis of this interplay requires precise manipulation of endogenous cellular components and high-resolution visualization. Here we provide a protocol for generating an extract from individual Drosophila syncytial embryos that supports repeated mitotic nuclear divisions with native characteristics. In contrast to the large-scale, metaphase-arrested Xenopus egg extract system, this assay enables the serial generation of extracts from single embryos of a genetically tractable organism, and each extract contains dozens of autonomously dividing nuclei that can be prepared and imaged within 60-90 min after embryo collection. We describe the microscopy setup and micropipette production that facilitate single-embryo manipulation, the preparation of embryos and the steps for making functional extracts that allow time-lapse microscopy of mitotic divisions ex vivo. The assay enables a unique combination of genetic, biochemical, optical and mechanical manipulations of the mitotic machinery.
Europe PMC

A Cdc42-regulated actin cytoskeleton mediates Drosophila oocyte polarization.
Leibfried, A., Muller, S. & Ephrussi, A.
Development. 2013 Jan 15;140(2):362-71. doi: 10.1242/dev.089250.
Polarity of the Drosophila oocyte is essential for correct development of the egg and future embryo. The Par proteins Par-6, aPKC and Bazooka are needed to maintain oocyte polarity and localize to specific domains early in oocyte development. To date, no upstream regulator or mechanism for localization of the Par proteins in the oocyte has been identified. We have analyzed the role of the small GTPase Cdc42 in oocyte polarity. We show that Cdc42 is required to maintain oocyte fate, which it achieves by mediating localization of Par proteins at distinct sites within this cell. We establish that Cdc42 localization itself is polarized to the anterolateral cortex of the oocyte and that Cdc42 is needed for maintenance of oocyte polarity throughout oogenesis. Our data show that Cdc42 ensures the integrity of the oocyte actin network and that disruption of this network with Latrunculin A phenocopies loss of Cdc42 or Par protein function in early stages of oogenesis. Finally, we show that Cdc42 and Par proteins, as well as Cdc42/Par and Arp3, interact in the context of oocyte polarity, and that loss of Par proteins reciprocally affects Cdc42 localization and the actin network. These results reveal a mutual dependence between Par proteins and Cdc42 for their localization, regulation of the actin cytoskeleton and, consequently, for the establishment of oocyte polarity. This most likely allows for the robustness in symmetry breaking in the cell.
Europe PMC

Aster migration determines the length scale of nuclear separation in the Drosophila syncytial embryo.
Telley, I.A., Gaspar, I., Ephrussi, A. & Surrey, T.
J Cell Biol. 2012 Jun 25;197(7):887-95. Epub 2012 Jun 18.
In the early embryo of many species, comparatively small spindles are positioned near the cell center for subsequent cytokinesis. In most insects, however, rapid nuclear divisions occur in the absence of cytokinesis, and nuclei distribute rapidly throughout the large syncytial embryo. Even distribution and anchoring of nuclei at the embryo cortex are crucial for cellularization of the blastoderm embryo. The principles underlying nuclear dispersal in a syncytium are unclear. We established a cell-free system from individual Drosophila melanogaster embryos that supports successive nuclear division cycles with native characteristics. This allowed us to investigate nuclear separation in predefined volumes. Encapsulating nuclei in microchambers revealed that the early cytoplasm is programmed to separate nuclei a distinct distance. Laser microsurgery revealed an important role of microtubule aster migration through cytoplasmic space, which depended on F-actin and cooperated with anaphase spindle elongation. These activities define a characteristic separation length scale that appears to be a conserved property of developing insect embryos.
Europe PMC

An intracellular transmission control protocol: assembly and transport of ribonucleoprotein complexes.
Marchand, V., Gaspar, I. & Ephrussi, A.
Curr Opin Cell Biol. 2012 Apr;24(2):202-10. doi: 10.1016/ Epub2012 Jan 23.
Initially assumed to be a special feature of highly polarized eukaryotic cells, recent evidence suggests that mRNA localization coupled with local translation is a widespread strategy for spatial restriction of protein synthesis within cells. Genome-wide analyses and live imaging approaches have shed new light on the prevalence and the mechanistic details of this phenomenon. Here we review some of the recent findings that have emerged from research from the RNA localization field, from the birth of mRNAs in the nucleus, to their delivery at specific sites within the cytoplasm.
Europe PMC

Control of RNP motility and localization by a splicing-dependent structure in oskar mRNA.
Ghosh, S., Marchand, V., Gaspar, I. & Ephrussi, A.
Nat Struct Mol Biol. 2012 Mar 18;19(4):441-9. doi: 10.1038/nsmb.2257.
oskar RNA localization to the posterior pole of the Drosophila melanogaster oocyte requires splicing of the first intron and the exon junction complex (EJC) core proteins. The functional link between splicing, EJC deposition and oskar localization has been unclear. Here we demonstrate that the EJC associates with oskar mRNA upon splicing in vitro and that Drosophila EJC deposition is constitutive and conserved. Our in vivo analysis reveals that splicing creates the spliced oskar localization element (SOLE), whose structural integrity is crucial for ribonucleoprotein motility and localization in the oocyte. Splicing thus has a dual role in oskar mRNA localization: assembling the SOLE and depositing the EJC required for mRNA transport. The SOLE complements the EJC in formation of a functional unit that, together with the oskar 3' UTR, maintains proper kinesin-based motility of oskar mRNPs and posterior mRNA targeting.
Europe PMC

Dimerization of oskar 3' UTRs promotes hitchhiking for RNA localization in the Drosophila oocyte.
Jambor, H., Brunel, C. & Ephrussi, A.
RNA. 2011 Dec;17(12):2049-57. Epub 2011 Oct 25.
mRNA localization coupled with translational control is a highly conserved and widespread mechanism for restricting protein expression to specific sites within eukaryotic cells. In Drosophila, patterning of the embryo requires oskar mRNA transport to the posterior pole of the oocyte and translational repression prior to localization. oskar RNA splicing and the 3' untranslated region (UTR) are required for posterior enrichment of the mRNA. However, reporter RNAs harboring the oskar 3' UTR can localize by hitchhiking with endogenous oskar transcripts. Here we show that the oskar 3' UTR contains a stem-loop structure that promotes RNA dimerization in vitro and hitchhiking in vivo. Mutations in the loop that abolish in vitro dimerization interfere with reporter RNA localization, and restoring loop complementarity restores hitchhiking. Our analysis provides insight into the molecular basis of RNA hitchhiking, whereby localization-incompetent RNA molecules can become locally enriched in the cytoplasm, by virtue of their association with transport-competent RNAs.
Europe PMC

Drosophila Ge-1 Promotes P Body Formation and oskar mRNA Localization.
Fan, S.J., Marchand, V. & Ephrussi, A.
PLoS One. 2011;6(5):e20612. Epub 2011 May 31.
mRNA localization coupled with translational control is a widespread and conserved strategy that allows the localized production of proteins within eukaryotic cells. In Drosophila, oskar (osk) mRNA localization and translation at the posterior pole of the oocyte are essential for proper patterning of the embryo. Several P body components are involved in osk mRNA localization and translational repression, suggesting a link between P bodies and osk RNPs. In cultured mammalian cells, Ge-1 protein is required for P body formation. Combining genetic, biochemical and immunohistochemical approaches, we show that, in vivo, Drosophila Ge-1 (dGe-1) is an essential gene encoding a P body component that promotes formation of these structures in the germline. dGe-1 partially colocalizes with osk mRNA and is required for osk RNP integrity. Our analysis reveals that although under normal conditions dGe-1 function is not essential for osk mRNA localization, it becomes critical when other components of the localization machinery, such as staufen, Drosophila decapping protein 1 and barentsz are limiting. Our findings suggest an important role of dGe-1 in optimization of the osk mRNA localization process required for patterning the Drosophila embryo.
Europe PMC

Myosin-V regulates oskar mRNA localization in the Drosophila oocyte.
Krauss, J., Lopez de Quinto, S., Nusslein-Volhard, C. & Ephrussi, A.
Curr Biol. 2009 Jun 23;19(12):1058-63. Epub 2009 May 28.
Intracellular mRNA localization is an effective mechanism for protein targeting leading to functional polarization of the cell. The mechanisms controlling mRNA localization and specifically how the actin and microtubule (MT) cytoskeletons cooperate in this process are not well understood. In Drosophila, Oskar protein accumulation at the posterior pole of the oocyte is required for embryonic development and is achieved by the transport of oskar mRNA and its exclusive translation at the posterior pole. oskar mRNA localization requires the activity of the MT-based motor Kinesin, as well as the formation of a transport-competent ribonucleoprotein (RNP) complex. Here, we show that didum, encoding the Drosophila actin-based motor Myosin-V, is a new posterior group gene that promotes posterior accumulation of Oskar. Myosin-V associates with the oskar mRNA transport complex preferentially at the oocyte cortex, revealing a short-range actomyosin-based mechanism that mediates the local entrapment of oskar at the posterior pole. Our results also show that Myosin-V interacts with Kinesin heavy chain and counterbalances Kinesin function, preventing ectopic accumulation of oskar in the cytoplasm. Our findings reveal that a balance of microtubule- and actin-based motor activities regulates oskar mRNA localization in the Drosophila oocyte.
Europe PMC

mRNA localization: gene expression in the spatial dimension.
Martin, K.C. & Ephrussi, A.
Cell. 2009 Feb 20;136(4):719-30.
The localization of mRNAs to subcellular compartments provides a mechanism for regulating gene expression with exquisite temporal and spatial control. Recent studies suggest that a large fraction of mRNAs localize to distinct cytoplasmic domains. In this Review, we focus on cis-acting RNA localization elements, RNA-binding proteins, and the assembly of mRNAs into granules that are transported by molecular motors along cytoskeletal elements to their final destination in the cell.
Europe PMC

Drosophila PTB promotes formation of high-order RNP particles and represses oskar translation.
Besse, F., Lopez de Quinto, S., Marchand, V., Trucco, A. & Ephrussi, A.
Genes Dev. 2009 Jan 15;23(2):195-207. Epub 2009 Jan 8.
Local translation of asymmetrically enriched mRNAs is a powerful mechanism for functional polarization of the cell. In Drosophila, exclusive accumulation of Oskar protein at the posterior pole of the oocyte is essential for development of the future embryo. This is achieved by the formation of a dynamic oskar ribonucleoprotein (RNP) complex regulating the transport of oskar mRNA, its translational repression while unlocalized, and its translational activation upon arrival at the posterior pole. We identified the nucleo-cytoplasmic shuttling protein PTB (polypyrimidine tract-binding protein)/hnRNP I as a new factor associating with the oskar RNP in vivo. While PTB function is largely dispensable for oskar mRNA transport, it is necessary for translational repression of the localizing mRNA. Unexpectedly, a cytoplasmic form of PTB can associate with oskar mRNA and repress its translation, suggesting that nuclear recruitment of PTB to oskar complexes is not required for its regulatory function. Furthermore, PTB binds directly to multiple sites along the oskar 3' untranslated region and mediates assembly of high-order complexes containing multiple oskar RNA molecules in vivo. Thus, PTB is a key structural component of oskar RNP complexes that dually controls formation of high-order RNP particles and translational silencing.
Europe PMC

The actin-binding protein Lasp promotes Oskar accumulation at the posterior pole of the Drosophila embryo.
Suyama, R., Jenny, A., Curado, S., Pellis-van Berkel, W. & Ephrussi, A.
Development. 2009 Jan;136(1):95-105. Epub 2008 Nov 26.
During Drosophila oogenesis, oskar mRNA is transported to the posterior pole of the oocyte, where it is locally translated and induces germ-plasm assembly. Oskar protein recruits all of the components necessary for the establishment of posterior embryonic structures and of the germline. Tight localization of Oskar is essential, as its ectopic expression causes severe patterning defects. Here, we show that the Drosophila homolog of mammalian Lasp1 protein, an actin-binding protein previously implicated in cell migration in vertebrate cell culture, contributes to the accumulation of Oskar protein at the posterior pole of the embryo. The reduced number of primordial germ cells in embryos derived from lasp mutant females can be rescued only with a form of Lasp that is capable of interacting with Oskar, revealing the physiological importance of the Lasp-Oskar interaction.
Europe PMC

Drosophila ensconsin promotes productive recruitment of Kinesin-1 to microtubules.
Sung, H.H., Telley, I.A., Papadaki, P., Ephrussi, A., Surrey, T. & Rorth, P.
Dev Cell. 2008 Dec;15(6):866-76.
Ensconsin is a conserved microtubule-associated protein (MAP) that interacts dynamically with microtubules, but its cellular function has remained elusive. We show that Drosophila ensconsin is required for all known kinesin-1-dependent processes in the polarized oocyte without detectable effects on microtubules. ensconsin is also required in neurons. Using a single molecule assay for kinesin-1 motility in Drosophila ovary extract, we show that recruitment to microtubules and subsequent motility is severely impaired without ensconsin. Ensconsin protein is enriched at the oocyte anterior and apically in polarized epithelial cells, although required for localization of posterior determinants. Par-1 is required for ensconsin localization and directly phosphorylates it at conserved sites. Our results reveal an unexpected function of a MAP, promoting productive recruitment of a specific motor to microtubules, and an additional level of kinesin regulation. Furthermore, spatial control of motor recruitment can provide additional regulatory control in Par-1 and microtubule-dependent cell polarity.
Europe PMC

Translational control of localized mRNAs: restricting protein synthesis in space and time.
Besse, F. & Ephrussi, A.
Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 2008 Dec;9(12):971-80.
As highlighted by recent genome-wide analyses in diverse organisms and cell types, subcellular targeting of mRNAs has emerged as a major mechanism for cells to establish functionally distinct compartments and structures. For protein synthesis to be spatially restricted, translation of localizing mRNAs is silenced during their transport and is activated when they reach their final destination. Such a precise translation pattern is controlled by repressors, which are specifically recruited to transport ribonucleoprotein particles and block translation at different steps. Functional studies have revealed that the inactivation of these repressors, either by pre-localized proteins or in response to conserved signalling pathways, triggers local protein synthesis.
Europe PMC

The Ig cell adhesion molecule Basigin controls compartmentalization and vesicle release at Drosophila melanogaster synapses.
Besse, F., Mertel, S., Kittel, R.J., Wichmann, C., Rasse, T.M., Sigrist, S.J. & Ephrussi, A.
J Cell Biol. 2007 Jun 4;177(5):843-55.
Synapses can undergo rapid changes in size as well as in their vesicle release function during both plasticity processes and development. This fundamental property of neuronal cells requires the coordinated rearrangement of synaptic membranes and their associated cytoskeleton, yet remarkably little is known of how this coupling is achieved. In a GFP exon-trap screen, we identified Drosophila melanogaster Basigin (Bsg) as an immunoglobulin domain-containing transmembrane protein accumulating at periactive zones of neuromuscular junctions. Bsg is required pre- and postsynaptically to restrict synaptic bouton size, its juxtamembrane cytoplasmic residues being important for that function. Bsg controls different aspects of synaptic structure, including distribution of synaptic vesicles and organization of the presynaptic cortical actin cytoskeleton. Strikingly, bsg function is also required specifically within the presynaptic terminal to inhibit nonsynchronized evoked vesicle release. We thus propose that Bsg is part of a transsynaptic complex regulating synaptic compartmentalization and strength, and coordinating plasma membrane and cortical organization.
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Stimulation of endocytosis and actin dynamics by Oskar polarizes the Drosophila oocyte.
Vanzo, N., Oprins, A., Xanthakis, D., Ephrussi, A. & Rabouille, C.
Dev Cell. 2007 Apr;12(4):543-55.
In Drosophila, localized activity of oskar at the posterior pole of the oocyte induces germline and abdomen formation in the embryo. Oskar has two isoforms, a short isoform encoding the patterning determinant and a long isoform of unknown function. Here, we show by immuno-electron microscopy that the two Oskar isoforms have different subcellular localizations in the oocyte: Short Oskar mainly localizes to polar granules, and Long Oskar is specifically associated with endocytic membranes along the posterior cortex. Our cell biological and genetic analyses reveal that Oskar stimulates endocytosis, and that its two isoforms are required to regulate this process. Furthermore, we describe long F-actin projections at the oocyte posterior pole that are induced by and intermingled with Oskar protein. We propose that Oskar maintains its localization at the posterior pole through dual functions in regulating endocytosis and F-actin dynamics.
Europe PMC

Rab6 mediates membrane organization and determinant localization during Drosophila oogenesis.
Coutelis, J.B. & Ephrussi, A.
Development. 2007 Apr;134(7):1419-30. Epub 2007 Feb 28.
The Drosophila melanogaster body axes are defined by the precise localization and the restriction of molecular determinants in the oocyte. Polarization of the oocyte during oogenesis is vital for this process. The directed traffic of membranes and proteins is a crucial component of polarity establishment in various cell types and organisms. Here, we investigate the role of the small GTPase Rab6 in the organization of the egg chamber and in asymmetric determinant localization during oogenesis. We show that exocytosis is affected in rab6-null egg chambers, which display a loss of nurse cell plasma membranes. Rab6 is also required for the polarization of the oocyte microtubule cytoskeleton and for the posterior localization of oskar mRNA. We show that, in vivo, Rab6 is found in a complex with Bicaudal-D, and that Rab6 and Bicaudal-D cooperate in oskar mRNA localization. Thus, during Drosophila oogenesis, Rab6-dependent membrane trafficking is doubly required; first, for the general organization and growth of the egg chamber, and second, more specifically, for the polarization of the microtubule cytoskeleton and localization of oskar mRNA. These findings highlight the central role of vesicular trafficking in the establishment of polarity and in determinant localization in Drosophila.
Europe PMC

Arginine methyltransferase Capsuleen is essential for methylation of spliceosomal Sm proteins and germ cell formation in Drosophila.
Anne, J., Ollo, R., Ephrussi, A. & Mechler, B.M.
Development. 2007 Jan;134(1):137-46.
Although arginine modification has been implicated in a number of cellular processes, the in vivo requirement of protein arginine methyltransferases (PRMTs) in specific biological processes remain to be clarified. In this study we characterize the Drosophila PRMT Capsuleen, homologous to human PRMT5. During Drosophila oogenesis, catalytic activity of Capsuleen is necessary for both the assembly of the nuage surrounding nurse cell nuclei and the formation of the pole plasm at the posterior end of the oocyte. In particular, we show that the nuage and pole plasm localization of Tudor, an essential component for germ cell formation, are abolished in csul mutant germ cells. We identify the spliceosomal Sm proteins as in vivo substrates of Capsuleen and demonstrate that Capsuleen, together with its associated protein Valois, is essential for the synthesis of symmetric di-methylated arginyl residues in Sm proteins. Finally, we show that Tudor can be targeted to the nuage in the absence of Sm methylation by Capsuleen, indicating that Tudor localization and Sm methylation are separate processes. Our results thus reveal the role of a PRMT in protein localization in germ cells.
Europe PMC

A translation-independent role of oskar RNA in early Drosophila oogenesis.
Jenny, A., Hachet, O., Zavorszky, P., Cyrklaff, A., Weston, M.D., Johnston, D.S., Erdelyi, M. & Ephrussi, A.
Development. 2006 Aug;133(15):2827-33.
The Drosophila maternal effect gene oskar encodes the posterior determinant responsible for the formation of the posterior pole plasm in the egg, and thus of the abdomen and germline of the future fly. Previously identified oskar mutants give rise to offspring that lack both abdominal segments and a germline, thus defining the ;posterior group phenotype'. Common to these classical oskar alleles is that they all produce significant amounts of oskar mRNA. By contrast, two new oskar mutants in which oskar RNA levels are strongly reduced or undetectable are sterile, because of an early arrest of oogenesis. This egg-less phenotype is complemented by oskar nonsense mutant alleles, as well as by oskar transgenes, the protein-coding capacities of which have been annulled. Moreover, we show that expression of the oskar 3' untranslated region (3'UTR) is sufficient to rescue the egg-less defect of the RNA null mutant. Our analysis thus reveals an unexpected role for oskar RNA during early oogenesis, independent of Oskar protein. These findings indicate that oskar RNA acts as a scaffold or regulatory RNA essential for development of the oocyte.
Europe PMC

Bruno acts as a dual repressor of oskar translation, promoting mRNA oligomerization and formation of silencing particles.
Chekulaeva, M., Hentze, M.W. & Ephrussi, A.
Cell. 2006 Feb 10;124(3):521-33.
Prior to reaching the posterior pole of the Drosophila oocyte, oskar mRNA is translationally silenced by Bruno binding to BREs in the 3' untranslated region. The eIF4E binding protein Cup interacts with Bruno and inhibits oskar translation. Validating current models, we directly demonstrate the mechanism proposed for Cup-mediated repression: inhibition of small ribosomal subunit recruitment to oskar mRNA. However, 43S complex recruitment remains inhibited in the absence of functional Cup, uncovering a second Bruno-dependent silencing mechanism. This mechanism involves mRNA oligomerization and formation of large (50S-80S) silencing particles that cannot be accessed by ribosomes. Bruno-dependent mRNA oligomerization into silencing particles emerges as a mode of translational control that may be particularly suited to coupling with mRNA transport.
Europe PMC

Gain-of-function screen for genes that affect Drosophila muscle pattern formation.
Staudt, N., Molitor, A., Somogyi, K., Mata, J., Curado, S., Eulenberg, K., Meise, M., Siegmund, T., Hader, T., Hilfiker, A., Bronner, G., Ephrussi, A., Rørth, P., Cohen, S.M., Fellert, S., Chung, H.R., Piepenburg, O., Schafer, U., Jackle, H. & Vorbruggen, G.
PLoS Genet 2005 Oct;1(4):e55. Epub 2005 Oct 28.
This article reports the production of an EP-element insertion library with more than 3,700 unique target sites within the Drosophila melanogaster genome and its use to systematically identify genes that affect embryonic muscle pattern formation. We designed a UAS/GAL4 system to drive GAL4-responsive expression of the EP-targeted genes in developing apodeme cells to which migrating myotubes finally attach and in an intrasegmental pattern of cells that serve myotubes as a migration substrate on their way towards the apodemes. The results suggest that misexpression of more than 1.5% of the Drosophila genes can interfere with proper myotube guidance and/or muscle attachment. In addition to factors already known to participate in these processes, we identified a number of enzymes that participate in the synthesis or modification of protein carbohydrate side chains and in Ubiquitin modifications and/or the Ubiquitin-dependent degradation of proteins, suggesting that these processes are relevant for muscle pattern formation.
Europe PMC

The Drosophila PAR-1 spacer domain is required for lateral membrane association and for polarization of follicular epithelial cells.
Vaccari, T., Rabouille, C. & Ephrussi, A.
Curr Biol 2005 Feb 8;15(3):255-61.
The Ser/Thr kinases of the PAR-1/MARK/Kin1 family are conserved regulators of polarity in epithelial and non-epithelial cells . Drosophila PAR-1 localizes laterally in the follicular epithelium of the ovary , where it has been shown to function at two distinct levels: It stabilizes the cytoskeleton and it regulates apical-basal polarity by directly inhibiting lateral assembly of the apical aPKC/Bazooka/PAR-6 complex . However, it has been unclear how lateral localization of Drosophila PAR-1 is achieved and whether this localization contributes to epithelial polarity in vivo. Here we show that, through its spacer domain, Drosophila PAR-1 accumulates on the lateral plasma membrane (PM) in cells of the follicular epithelium (FE). Rescue experiments indicate that in FE cells PAR-1 kinase activity is essential for all the described functions of PAR-1. In contrast, the spacer domain of PAR-1 is required for apical-basal polarity and growth control but is dispensable for microtubule (MT) stabilization. Our data indicate that the spacer domain of PAR-1 is required for lateral PM localization of PAR-1 kinase and for development of a polarized FE.
Europe PMC

Par-1 regulates bicoid mRNA localisation by phosphorylating Exuperantia.
Riechmann, V. & Ephrussi, A.
Development 2004 Dec;131(23):5897-907.
The Ser/Thr kinase Par-1 is required for cell polarisation in diverse organisms such as yeast, worms, flies and mammals. During Drosophila oogenesis, Par-1 is required for several polarisation events, including localisation of the anterior determinant bicoid. To elucidate the molecular pathways triggered by Par-1, we have performed a genome-wide, high-throughput screen for Par-1 targets. Among the targets identified in this screen was Exuperantia (Exu), a mediator of bicoid mRNA localisation. We show that Exu is a phosphoprotein whose phosphorylation is dependent on Par-1 in vitro and in vivo. We identify two motifs in Exu that are phosphorylated by Par-1, and show that their mutation abolishes bicoid mRNA localisation during mid-oogenesis. Interestingly, exu mutants in which Exu phosphorylation is specifically affected can to some extent recover from these bicoid mRNA localisation defects during late oogenesis. These results demonstrate that Par-1 establishes polarity in the oocyte by activating a mediator of bicoid mRNA localisation. Furthermore, our analysis reveals two phases of Exu-dependent bicoid mRNA localisation: an early phase that is strictly dependent on Exu phosphorylation and a late phase that is less phosphorylation dependent.
Europe PMC

Drosophila development: RNA interference ab ovo.
Chekulaeva, M. & Ephrussi, A.
Curr Biol 2004 Jun 8;14(11):R428-30.
A novel protein required for RNA interference in Drosophila, Armitage, was identified in a screen for genes involved in embryonic axis formation. In armitage mutants, oocyte polarity and the regulation of oskar mRNA translation are impaired, suggesting that RNA silencing regulates the first steps of Drosophila development.
Europe PMC

Hrp48, a Drosophila hnRNPA/B Homolog, Binds and Regulates Translation of oskar mRNA.
Yano, T., De Quinto, S.L., Matsui, Y., Shevchenko, A., Shevchenko, A. & Ephrussi, A.
Dev Cell 2004 May;6(5):637-48.
Establishment of the Drosophila embryonic axes provides a striking example of RNA localization as an efficient mechanism for protein targeting within a cell. oskar mRNA encodes the posterior determinant and is essential for germline and abdominal development in the embryo. Tight restriction of Oskar activity to the posterior is achieved by mRNA localization-dependent translational control, whereby unlocalized mRNA is translationally repressed and repression is overcome upon mRNA localization. Here we identify the previously reported oskar RNA binding protein p50 as Hrp48, an abundant Drosophila hnRNP. Analysis of three hrp48 mutant alleles reveals that Hrp48 levels are crucial for polarization of the oocyte during mid-oogenesis. Our data also show that Hrp48, which binds to the 5' and 3' regions of oskar mRNA, plays an important role in restricting Oskar activity to the posterior of the oocyte, by repressing oskar mRNA translation during transport.
Europe PMC

Splicing of oskar RNA in the nucleus is coupled to its cytoplasmic localization.
Hachet, O. & Ephrussi, A.
Nature 2004 Apr 29;428(6986):959-63.
oskar messenger RNA localization at the posterior pole of the Drosophila oocyte is essential for germline and abdomen formation in the future embryo. The nuclear shuttling proteins Y14/Tsunagi and Mago nashi are required for oskar mRNA localization, and they co-localize with oskar mRNA at the posterior pole of the oocyte. Their human homologues, Y14/RBM8 and Magoh, are core components of the exon-exon junction complex (EJC). The EJC is deposited on mRNAs in a splicing-dependent manner, 20-24 nucleotides upstream of exon-exon junctions, independently of the RNA sequence. This indicates a possible role of splicing in oskar mRNA localization, challenging the established notion that the oskar 3' untranslated region (3'UTR) is sufficient for this process. Here we show that splicing at the first exon-exon junction of oskar RNA is essential for oskar mRNA localization at the posterior pole. We revisit the issue of sufficiency of the oskar 3'UTR for posterior localization and show that the localization of unrelated transcripts bearing the oskar 3'UTR is mediated by endogenous oskar mRNA. Our results reveal an important new function for splicing: regulation of messenger ribonucleoprotein complex assembly and organization for mRNA cytoplasmic localization.
Europe PMC

PKA-R1 spatially restricts Oskar expression for Drosophila embryonic patterning.
Yoshida, S., Muller, H.A., Wodarz, A. & Ephrussi, A.
Development 2004 Mar;131(6):1401-10.
Targeting proteins to specific domains within the cell is central to the generation of polarity, which underlies many processes including cell fate specification and pattern formation during development. The anteroposterior and dorsoventral axes of the Drosophila melanogaster embryo are determined by the activities of localized maternal gene products. At the posterior pole of the oocyte, Oskar directs the assembly of the pole plasm, and is thus responsible for formation of abdomen and germline in the embryo. Tight restriction of oskar activity is achieved by mRNA localization, localization-dependent translation, anchoring of the RNA and protein, and stabilization of Oskar at the posterior pole. Here we report that the type 1 regulatory subunit of cAMP-dependent protein kinase (Pka-R1) is crucial for the restriction of Oskar protein to the oocyte posterior. Mutations in PKA-R1 cause premature and ectopic accumulation of Oskar protein throughout the oocyte. This phenotype is due to misregulation of PKA catalytic subunit activity and is suppressed by reducing catalytic subunit gene dosage. These data demonstrate that PKA mediates the spatial restriction of Oskar for anteroposterior patterning of the Drosophila embryo and that control of PKA activity by PKA-R1 is crucial in this process.
Europe PMC

Seeing is believing: the bicoid morphogen gradient matures.
Ephrussi, A. & St Johnston, D.
Cell 2004 Jan 23;116(2):143-52.
Although Cell has a long history of publishing some of the most significant advances in developmental biology, the back to back papers by Driever and Nusslein-Volhard on the role of the Bicoid gradient in patterning the Drosophila embryo stand out as the first molecular demonstration of two of the longest standing concepts of the field, namely localized cytoplasmic determinants and morphogen gradients. Here we discuss the impact of this ground-breaking work and review recent results on bicoid mRNA localization and the dual role of Bicoid as a transcription and translation factor.
Europe PMC

Drosophila Perilipin/ADRP homologue Lsd2 regulates lipid metabolism.
Teixeira, L., Rabouille, C., Rorth, P., Ephrussi, A. & Vanzo, N.F.
Mech Dev 2003 Sep;120(9):1071-81.
Many cells store neutral lipids, as triacylglycerol and sterol esters, in droplets. PAT-domain proteins form a conserved family of proteins that are localized at the surface of neutral lipid droplets. Two mammalian members of this family, Perilipin and adipose differentiation-related protein, are involved in lipid storage and regulate lipolysis. Here, we describe the Drosophila PAT-family member Lsd2. We showed that Lsd2 is predominantly expressed in tissues engaged in high levels of lipid metabolism, the fat body and the germ line of females. Ultrastructural analysis in the germ line showed that Lsd2 localizes to the surface of lipid droplets. We have generated an Lsd2 mutant and described its phenotype. Mutant adults have a reduced level of neutral lipid content compared to wild type, showing that Lsd2 is required for normal lipid storage. In addition, ovaries from Lsd2 mutant females exhibit an abnormal pattern of accumulation of neutral lipids from mid-oogenesis, which results in reduced deposition of lipids in the egg. Consistent with its expression in the female germ line, we showed that Lsd2 is a maternal effect gene that is required for normal embryogenesis. This work demonstrates that Lsd2 has an evolutionarily conserved function in lipid metabolism and establishes Drosophila melanogaster as a new in vivo model for studies on the PAT-family of proteins.
Europe PMC

Bruno regulates gurken during Drosophila oogenesis.
Filardo, P. & Ephrussi, A.
Mech Dev 2003 Mar;120(3):289-97.
Translational regulation of localized transcripts is a powerful mechanism to control the precise timing and localization of protein expression within a cell. In the Drosophila germline, oskar transcript must be translationally repressed until its localization at the posterior pole of the oocyte, as ectopic production of Oskar causes severe patterning defects. Translational repression of oskar mRNA is mediated by the RNA-binding protein Bruno, which binds to specific motifs in the oskar 3'UTR. Here we show that Bruno over-expression causes defects in antero-posterior and dorso-ventral patterning, consistent with a role of Bruno in both oskar and gurken mRNA regulation. We also show that Bruno and gurken interact genetically. Finally, we show that Bruno binds specifically to the gurken 3'UTR and that the dorso-ventral defects caused by Bruno over-expression are due to a reduction of Gurken levels in the oocyte. We conclude that Bruno plays similar roles in translational regulation of gurken and oskar.
Europe PMC

Orb and a long poly(A) tail are required for efficient oskar translation at the posterior pole of the Drosophila oocyte.
Castagnetti, S. & Ephrussi, A.
Development 2003 Mar;130(5):835-43.
During Drosophila oogenesis, the posterior determinant, Oskar, is tightly localized at the posterior pole of the oocyte. The exclusive accumulation of Oskar at this site is ensured by localization-dependent translation of oskar mRNA: translation of oskar mRNA is repressed during transport and activated upon localization at the posterior cortex. Previous studies have suggested that oskar translation is poly(A)-independent. We show that a long poly(A) tail is required for efficient oskar translation, both in vivo and in vitro, but is not sufficient to overcome BRE-mediated repression. Moreover, we show that accumulation of Oskar activity requires the Drosophila homolog of Cytoplasmic Polyadenylation Element Binding protein (CPEB), Orb. As posterior localization of oskar mRNA is an essential prerequisite for its translation, it was critical to identify an allele of orb that does localize oskar mRNA to the posterior pole of the oocyte. We show that flies bearing the weak mutation orb(mel) localize oskar transcripts with a shortened poly(A) that fails to enhance oskar translation, resulting in reduced Oskar levels and posterior patterning defects. We conclude that Orb-mediated cytoplasmic polyadenylation stimulates oskar translation to achieve the high levels of Oskar protein necessary for posterior patterning and germline differentiation.
Europe PMC

The fusome and microtubules enrich Par-1 in the oocyte, Where it effects polarization in conjunction with Par-3, BicD, Egl, and Dynein.
Vaccari, T. & Ephrussi, A.
Curr Biol 2002 Sep 3;12(17):1524.
After its specification, the Drosophila oocyte undergoes a critical polarization event that involves a reorganization of the microtubules (MT) and relocalization of the determinant Orb within the oocyte. This polarization requires Par-1 kinase and the PDZ-containing Par-3 homolog, Bazooka (Baz). Par-1 has been observed on the fusome, which degenerates before the onset of oocyte polarization. How Par-1 acts to polarize the oocyte has been unclear. Here we show that Par-1 becomes restricted to the oocyte in a MT-dependent fashion after disappearance of the fusome. At the time of polarization, the kinase itself and the determinant BicaudalD (BicD) are relocalized from the anterior to the posterior of the oocyte. Par-1 and BicD are interdependent and require MT and the minus end-directed motor Dynein for their relocalization. We show that baz is required for Par-1 relocalization within the oocyte and that the distributions of Baz and Par-1 in the Drosophila oocyte are complementary and strikingly reminiscent of the two PAR proteins in the C. elegans embryo. We propose that, through the combined actions of the fusome, MT, and Baz, Par-1 is selectively enriched and localized within the oocyte, where, in conjunction with BicD, Egalitarian (Egl), and Dynein, it acts on the MT cytoskeleton to effect polarization.
Europe PMC

Oskar anchoring restricts pole plasm formation to the posterior of the Drosophila oocyte.
Vanzo, N.F. & Ephrussi, A.
Development 2002 Aug;129(15):3705-14.
Localization of the maternal determinant Oskar at the posterior pole of Drosophila melanogaster oocyte provides the positional information for pole plasm formation. Spatial control of Oskar expression is achieved through the tight coupling of mRNA localization to translational control, such that only posterior-localized oskar mRNA is translated, producing the two Oskar isoforms Long Osk and Short Osk. We present evidence that this coupling is not sufficient to restrict Oskar to the posterior pole of the oocyte. We show that Long Osk anchors both oskar mRNA and Short Osk, the isoform active in pole plasm assembly, at the posterior pole. In the absence of anchoring by Long Osk, Short Osk disperses into the bulk cytoplasm during late oogenesis, impairing pole cell formation in the embryo. In addition, the pool of untethered Short Osk causes anteroposterior patterning defects, owing to the dispersion of pole plasm and its abdomen-inducing activity throughout the oocyte. We show that the N-terminal extension of Long Osk is necessary but not sufficient for posterior anchoring, arguing for multiple docking elements in Oskar. This study reveals cortical anchoring of the posterior determinant Oskar as a crucial step in pole plasm assembly and restriction, required for proper development of Drosophila melanogaster.
Europe PMC

A germline-specific gap junction protein required for survival of differentiating early germ cells.
Tazuke, S.I., Schulz, C., Gilboa, L., Fogarty, M., Mahowald, A.P., Guichet, A., Ephrussi, A., Wood, C.G., Lehmann, R. & Fuller, M.T.
Development 2002 May;129(10):2529-39.
Germ cells require intimate associations and signals from the surrounding somatic cells throughout gametogenesis. The zero population growth (zpg) locus of Drosophila encodes a germline-specific gap junction protein, Innexin 4, that is required for survival of differentiating early germ cells during gametogenesis in both sexes. Animals with a null mutation in zpg are viable but sterile and have tiny gonads. Adult zpg-null gonads contain small numbers of early germ cells, resembling stem cells or early spermatogonia or oogonia, but lack later stages of germ cell differentiation. In the male, Zpg protein localizes to the surface of spermatogonia, primarily on the sides adjacent to the somatic cyst cells. In the female, Zpg protein localizes to germ cell surfaces, both those adjacent to surrounding somatic cells and those adjacent to other germ cells. We propose that Zpg-containing gap junctional hemichannels in the germ cell plasma membrane may connect with hemichannels made of other innexin isoforms on adjacent somatic cells. Gap junctional intercellular communication via these channels may mediate passage of crucial small molecules or signals between germline and somatic support cells required for survival and differentiation of early germ cells in both sexes.
Europe PMC

Par-1 regulates stability of the posterior determinant Oskar by phosphorylation.
Riechmann, V., Gutierrez, G.J., Filardo, P., Nebreda, A.R. & Ephrussi, A.
Nat Cell Biol 2002 May;4(5):337-42.
Par-1 kinase is critical for polarization of the Drosophila melanogaster oocyte and the one-cell Caenorhabditis elegans embryo. Although Par-1 localizes specifically to the posterior pole in both cells, neither its targets nor its function at the posterior pole have been elucidated. Here we show that Drosophila Par-1 phosphorylates the posterior determinant Oskar (Osk) and demonstrate genetically that Par-1 is required for accumulation of Osk protein. We show in cell-free extracts that Osk protein is intrinsically unstable and that it is stabilized after phosphorylation by Par-1. Our data indicate that posteriorly localized Par-1 regulates posterior patterning by stabilizing Osk.
Europe PMC

Drosophila Y14 shuttles to the posterior of the oocyte and is required for oskar mRNA transport.
Hachet, O. & Ephrussi, A.
Curr Biol 2001 Oct 30;11(21):1666-74.
BACKGROUND: mRNA localization is a powerful and widely employed mechanism for generating cell asymmetry. In Drosophila, localization of mRNAs in the oocyte determines the axes of the future embryo. oskar mRNA localization at the posterior pole is essential and sufficient for the specification of the germline and the abdomen. Its posterior transport along the microtubules is mediated by Kinesin I and several proteins, such as Mago-nashi, which, together with oskar mRNA, form a posterior localization complex. It was recently shown that human Y14, a nuclear protein that associates with mRNAs upon splicing and shuttles to the cytoplasm, interacts with MAGOH, the human homolog of Mago-nashi. RESULTS: Here, we show that Drosophila Y14 interacts with Mago-nashi in vivo. Immunohistochemistry reveals that Y14 is predominantly nuclear and colocalizes with oskar mRNA at the posterior pole. We show that, in y14 mutant oocytes, oskar mRNA localization to the posterior pole is specifically affected, while the cytoskeleton appears to be intact. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings indicate that Y14 is part of the oskar mRNA localization complex and that the nuclear shuttling protein Y14 has a specific and direct role in oskar mRNA cytoplasmic localization.
Europe PMC

Axis formation during Drosophila oogenesis.
Riechmann, V. & Ephrussi, A.
Curr Opin Genet Dev 2001 Aug;11(4):374-83.
Recent advances shed light on the cellular processes that cooperate during oogenesis to produce a fully patterned egg, containing all the maternal information required for embryonic development. Progress has been made in defining the early steps in oocyte specification and it has been shown that progression of oogenesis is controlled by a meiotic checkpoint and requires active maintenance of the oocyte cell fate. The function of Gurken signalling in patterning the dorsal-ventral axis later in oogenesis is better understood. Anterior-posterior patterning of the embryo requires activities of bicoid and oskar mRNAs, localised within the oocyte. A microtubule motor, Kinesin, is directly implicated in localisation of oskar mRNA to the posterior pole of the oocyte.
Europe PMC

A Drosophila melanogaster homologue of Caenorhabditis elegans par-1 acts at an early step in embryonic-axis formation.
Tomancak, P., Piano, F., Riechmann, V., Gunsalus, K.C., Kemphues, K.J. & Ephrussi, A.
Nat Cell Biol 2000 Jul;2(7):458-460 Europe PMC

Tribbles coordinates mitosis and morphogenesis in Drosophila by regulating string/CDC25 proteolysis.
Mata, J., Curado, S., Ephrussi, A. & Rorth, P.
Cell 2000 May 26;101(5):511-22
Morphogenesis and cell differentiation in multicellular organisms often require accurate control of cell divisions. We show that a novel cell cycle regulator, tribbles, is critical for this control during Drosophila development. During oogenesis, the level of tribbles affects the number of germ cell divisions as well as oocyte determination. The mesoderm anlage enters mitosis prematurely in tribbles mutant embryos, leading to gastrulation defects. We show that Tribbles acts by specifically inducing degradation of the CDC25 mitotic activators String and Twine via the proteosome pathway. By regulating CDC25, Tribbles serves to coordinate entry into mitosis with morphogenesis and cell fate determination.
Europe PMC

Relief of gene repression by torso RTK signaling: role of capicua in Drosophila terminal and dorsoventral patterning.
Jimenez, G., Guichet, A., Ephrussi, A. & Casanova, J.
Genes Dev 2000 Jan 15;14(2):224-31
Differentiation of the embryonic termini in Drosophila depends on signaling by the Tor RTK, which induces terminal gene expression by inactivating at the embryonic poles a uniformly distributed repressor activity that involves the Gro corepressor. Here, we identify a new gene, cic, that acts as a repressor of terminal genes regulated by the Tor pathway. cic also mediates repression along the dorsoventral axis, a process that requires the Dorsal morphogen and Gro, and which is also inhibited by Tor signaling at the termini. cic encodes an HMG-box transcription factor that interacts with Gro in vitro. We present evidence that Tor signaling regulates terminal patterning by inactivating Cic at the embryo poles. cic has been evolutionarily conserved, suggesting that Cic-like proteins may act as repressors regulated by RTK signaling in other organisms.
Europe PMC

Control of oskar mRNA translation by Bruno in a novel cell-free system from Drosophila ovaries.
Castagnetti, S., Hentze, M.W., Ephrussi, A. & Gebauer, F.
Development 2000;127(5):1063-1068
The coupled regulation of oskar mRNA localization and translation in time and space is critical for correct anteroposterior patterning of the Drosophila embryo. Localization-dependent translation of oskar mRNA, a mechanism whereby oskar RNA localized at the posterior of the oocyte is selectively translated and the unlocalized RNA remains in a translationally repressed state, ensures that Oskar activity is present exclusively at the posterior pole. Genetic experiments indicate that translational repression involves the binding of Bruno protein to multiple sites, the Bruno Response Elements (BRE), in the 3' untranslated region (UTR) of oskar mRNA. We have established a cell- free translation system derived from Drosophila ovaries, which faithfully reproduces critical features of mRNA translation in vivo, namely cap structure and poly(A) tail dependence. We show that this ovary extract, containing endogenous Bruno, is able to recapitulate oskar mRNA regulation in a BRE-dependent way. Thus, the assembly of a ribonucleoprotein (RNP) complex leading to the translationally repressed state occurs in vitro. Moreover, we show that a Drosophila embryo extract lacking Bruno efficiently translates oskar mRNA. Addition of recombinant Bruno to this extract establishes the repressed state in a BRE-dependent manner, providing a direct biochemical demonstration of the critical role of Bruno in oskar mRNA translation. The approach that we describe opens new avenues to investigate translational regulation in Drosophila oogenesis at a biochemical level.
Europe PMC

Localization-dependent translation requires a functional interaction between the 5' and 3' ends of oskar mRNA.
Gunkel, N., Yano, T., Markussen, F.H., Olsen, L.C. & Ephrussi, A.
Genes Dev 1998 Jun 1 12(11) 1652-1664
The precise restriction of proteins to specific domains within a cell plays an important role in early development and differentiation. An efficient way to localize and concentrate proteins is by localization of mRNA in a translationally repressed state, followed by activation of translation when the mRNA reaches its destination. A central issue is how localized mRNAs are derepressed. In this study we demonstrate that, when oskar mRNA reaches the posterior pole of the Drosophila oocyte, its translation is derepressed by an active process that requires a specific element in the 5' region of the mRNA. We demonstrate that this novel type of element is a translational derepressor element, whose functional interaction with the previously identified repressor region in the oskar 3' UTR is required for activation of oskar mRNA translation at the posterior pole. The derepressor element only functions at the posterior pole, suggesting that a locally restricted interaction between trans-acting factors and the derepressor element may be the link between mRNA localization and translational activation. We also show specific interaction of two proteins with the oskar mRNA 5' region; one of these also recognizes the 3' repressor element. We discuss the possible involvement of these factors as well as known genes in the process of localization-dependent translation.
Europe PMC

Oocyte polarity depends on regulation of gurken by Vasa.
Tomancak, P., Guichet, A., Zavorszky, P. & Ephrussi, A.
Development 1998 May 125(9) 1723-1732
Vasa, a DEAD box mRNA helicase similar to eIF4A, is involved in pole plasm assembly in the Drosophila oocyte and appears to regulate translation of oskar and nanos mRNAs. However, several vasa alleles exhibit a wide range of early oogenesis phenotypes. Here we report a detailed analysis of Vasa function during early oogenesis using novel as well as previously identified hypomorphic vasa alleles. We find that vasa is required for the establishment of both anterior-posterior and dorsal-ventral polarity of the oocyte. The polarity defects of vasa mutants appear to be caused by a reduction in the amount of Gurken protein at stages of oogenesis critical for the establishment of polarity. Vasa is required for translation of gurken mRNA during early oogenesis and for achieving wild-type levels of gurken mRNA expression later in oogenesis. A variety of early oogenesis phenotypes observed in vasa ovaries, which cannot be attributed to the defect in gurken expression, suggest that vasa also affects expression of other mRNAs.
Europe PMC

Cytoplasmic flows localize injected oskar RNA in Drosophila oocytes.
Glotzer, J.B., Saffrich, R., Glotzer, M. & Ephrussi, A.
Curr Biol 1997 May 1 7(5) 326-337
BACKGROUND: The oskar (osk) gene encodes a determinant of posterior identity in Drosophila, and the localization of osk RNA to the pole plasm at the posterior pole of the oocyte is essential for development of the embryo. The mechanisms by which osk RNA is localized are unknown. RESULTS: To study the mechanisms underlying localization of osk RNA, we have injected fluorescently labelled RNA into oocytes at stages 9, 10 and 11. Injected osk RNA localizes to the pole plasm, reproducing localization of the endogenous RNA. In oocytes at stages 10 and 11, the long-range movement of injected osk RNA is promoted by a vigorous, microtubule-dependent cytoplasmic flow, or ooplasmic streaming. Treatment with colchicine, a microtubule-destabilizing drug, inhibits ooplasmic streaming and prevents localization of the RNA from an injection site distal to the posterior pole. If the RNA is injected close to the posterior pole, however, it localizes even in the presence of colchicine. Similarly, in small oocytes, such as stage 9 oocytes, localization of injected osk RNA is insensitive to colchicine. CONCLUSIONS: These results reveal that microtubule-dependent cytoplasmic flows could contribute to the long-range transport of osk RNA, whereas microtubule-independent processes could mediate short- range transport. These results also highlight the role of the osk RNA anchor in the localization process.
Europe PMC

The nuclear receptor homologue Ftz-F1 and the homeodomain protein Ftz are mutually dependent cofactors.
Guichet, A., Copeland, J.W., Erdelyi, M., Hlousek, D., Zavorszky, P., Ho, J., Brown, S., Percival-Smith, A., Krause, H.M. & Ephrussi, A.
Nature 1997 Feb 6;385(6616):548-52.
Nuclear hormone receptors and homeodomain proteins are two classes of transcription factor that regulate major developmental processes. Both depend on interactions with other proteins for specificity and activity. The Drosophila gene fushi tarazu (ftz), which encodes a homeodomain protein (Ftz), is required zygotically for the formation of alternate segments in the developing embryo. Here we show that the orphan nuclear receptor alphaFtz-F1 (ref. 3), which is deposited in the egg during oogenesis, is an obligatory cofactor for Ftz. The two proteins interact specifically and directly, both in vitro and in vivo, through a conserved domain in the Ftz polypeptide. This interaction suggests that other nuclear receptor/homeodomain protein interactions maybe important and common in developing organisms.
Europe PMC

Ftz-F1 is a cofactor in Ftz activation of the Drosophila engrailed gene.
Florence, B., Guichet, A., Ephrussi, A. & Laughon, A.
Development 1997 Feb;124(4):839-47.
The fushi tarazu pair-rule gene is required for the formation of alternating parasegmental boundaries in the Drosophila embryo. fushi tarazu encodes a homeodomain protein necessary for transcription of the engrailed gene in even-numbered parasegments. Here we report that, within an engrailed enhancer, adjacent and conserved binding sites for the Fushi tarazu protein and a cofactor are each necessary, and together sufficient, for transcriptional activation. Footprinting shows that the cofactor site can be bound specifically by Ftz-F1, a member of the nuclear receptor superfamily. Ftz-F1 and the Fushi tarazu homeodomain bind the sites with 4- to 8-fold cooperativity, suggesting that direct contact between the two proteins may contribute to target recognition. Even parasegmental reporter expression is dependent on Fushi tarazu and maternal Ftz-F1, suggesting that these two proteins are indeed the factors that act upon the two sites in embryos. The two adjacent binding sites are also required for continued activity of the engrailed enhancer after Fushi tarazu protein is no longer detectable, including the period when engrailed, and the enhancer, become dependent upon wingless. We also report the existence of a separate negative regulatory element that apparently responds to odd-skipped.
Europe PMC

Efficient translation and phosphorylation of Oskar require Oskar protein and the RNA helicase Vasa.
Markussen, F.H., Breitwieser, W. & Ephrussi, A.
Cold Spring Harb Symp Quant Biol 1997 62 13-17 Europe PMC

Analysis of RNA distribution during Drosophila oogenesis using fluorescent in situ hybridization.
Glotzer, J.B. & Ephrussi, A.
In "A Comparative Methods Approach to the Study of Oocytes and Embryos", Richter, J. (ed.), 1997, Oxford University Press, New York

Oskar protein interaction with Vasa represents an essential step in polar granule assembly.
Breitwieser, W., Markussen, F.H., Horstmann, H. & Ephrussi, A.
Genes Dev 1996 Sep 1 10(17) 2179-2188
The posterior pole plasm of the Drosophila egg contains the determinants of abdominal and germ-cell fates of the embryo. Pole plasm assembly is induced by oskar RNA localized to the posterior pole of the oocyte. Genetics has revealed three additional genes, staufen, vasa, and tudor, that are also essential for pole plasm formation. Staufen protein is required for both oskar RNA localization and translation. Vasa and Tudor are localized dependent on Oskar protein and are required to accumulate Oskar protein stably at the posterior pole. We have explored interactions between these gene products at the molecular level and find that Oskar interacts directly with Vasa and Staufen, in a yeast two-hybrid assay. These interactions also occur in vitro and are affected by mutations in Oskar that abolish pole plasm formation in vivo. Finally, we show that in the pole plasm, Oskar protein, like Vasa and Tudor, is a component of polar granules, the germ-line-specific RNP structures. These results suggest that the Oskar-Vasa interaction constitutes an initial step in polar granule assembly. In addition, we discuss the possible biological role of the Oskar-Staufen interaction.
Europe PMC

mRNA localization and the cytoskeleton.
Glotzer, J.B. & Ephrussi, A.
Seminars in Cell and Developmental Biology 1996 7 357-365

Translational control of oskar generates short OSK, the isoform that induces pole plasma assembly.
Markussen, F.H., Michon, A.M., Breitwieser, W. & Ephrussi, A.
Development 1995 Nov 121(11) 3723-3732
At the posterior pole of the Drosophila oocyte, oskar induces a tightly localized assembly of pole plasm. This spatial restriction of oskar activity has been thought to be achieved by the localization of oskar mRNA, since mislocalization of the RNA to the anterior induces anterior pole plasm. However, ectopic pole plasm does not form in mutant ovaries where oskar mRNA is not localized, suggesting that the unlocalized mRNA is inactive. As a first step towards understanding how oskar activity is restricted to the posterior pole, we analyzed oskar translation in wild type and mutants. We show that the targeting of oskar activity to the posterior pole involves two steps of spatial restriction, cytoskeleton-dependent localization of the mRNA and localization- dependent translation. Furthermore, our experiments demonstrate that two isoforms of Oskar protein are produced by alternative start codon usage. The short isoform, which is translated from the second in-frame AUG of the mRNA, has full oskar activity. Finally, we show that when oskar RNA is localized, accumulation of Oskar protein requires the functions of vasa and tudor, as well as oskar itself, suggesting a positive feedback mechanism in the induction of pole plasm by oskar.
Europe PMC

Requirement for Drosophila cytoplasmic tropomyosin in oskar mRNA localization.
Erdelyi, M., Michon, A.M., Guichet, A., Glotzer, J.B. & Ephrussi, A.
Nature. 1995 Oct 12;377(6549):524-7.
The localization of oskar (osk) RNA to the posterior pole of the developing fruit fly (Drosophila) oocyte induces the assembly of pole plasm, causing development of the abdomen and germ line. Failure to localize oskar RNA results in embryos that lack abdomen and germ cells. Conversely, mis-targeting of oskar RNA to the anterior of the oocyte causes formation of ectopic abdomen and germ cells at the anterior pole. Maternal mutants that have reduced pole plasm activity produce sterile adults with normal abdominal development, suggesting that germ cells are more sensitive than abdomen to defects in pole plasm assembly. Thus mutations in genes that reduce oskar RNA localization or activity can be recovered as viable sterile adults. In a screen for mutants defective in germ cell formation, we isolated nine alleles of the tropomyosin II gene. Here we show that mutations in tropomyosin II (TmII) virtually abolish oskar RNA localization to the posterior pole, suggesting an involvement of the actin network in oskar RNA localization.
Europe PMC

Germ plasm formation and germ cell determination in Drosophila.
Lehmann, R. & Ephrussi, A.
Ciba Found Symp 1994;182:282-96; discussion 296-300.
In organisms as diverse as frogs, worms and flies germline precursor cells are set aside from the somatic cells early in development. It has been proposed that specific molecules, referred to as germ cell determinants, are deposited in the egg and direct the germ cell fate, but the molecular nature and function of these determinants is not fully understood. Genetic and molecular analysis in Drosophila melanogaster indicates that germ cell determination involves not only the synthesis of specific germ cell factors but also the proper localization and assembly of a morphologically distinct germ plasm. A pathway for germ plasm assembly has been established in which the oskar gene has a central role. The amount of oskar product in the embryo controls the number of germ cells formed and mislocalization of oskar RNA and protein in the egg cell leads to the formation of ectopic germ cells in the embryo. In addition to its role in anchoring germ cell-specific signals, the germ plasm also serves as the source of abdomen-specific signal. Such a colocalization of morphogenetic signals involved in germ cell formation and in the specification of the body axis is not unique to Drosophila but is also found in Caenorhabditis elegans and Xenopus.
Europe PMC

Induction of germ cell formation by oskar.
Ephrussi, A. & Lehmann, R.
Nature. 1992 Jul 30;358(6385):387-92.
The oskar gene directs germ plasm assembly and controls the number of germ cell precursors formed at the posterior pole of the Drosophila embryo. Mislocalization of oskar RNA to the anterior pole leads to induction of germ cells at the anterior. Of the eight genes necessary for germ cell formation at the posterior, only three, oskar, vasa and tudor, are essential at an ectopic site.
Europe PMC

Oskar organizes the germ plasm and directs localization of the posterior determinant nanos.
Ephrussi, A., Dickinson, L.K. & Lehmann, R.
Cell 1991 Jul 12;66(1):37-50.
Oskar is one of seven Drosophila maternal-effect genes that are necessary for germline and abdomen formation. We have cloned oskar and show that oskar RNA is localized to the posterior pole of the oocyte when germ plasm forms. This polar distribution of oskar RNA is established during oogenesis in three phases: accumulation in the oocyte, transport toward the posterior, and finally maintenance at the posterior pole of the oocyte. The colocalization of oskar and nanos in wild-type and bicaudal embryos suggests that oskar directs localization of the posterior determinant nanos. We propose that the pole plasm is assembled stepwise and that continued interaction among its components is required for germ cell determination.
Europe PMC