Maintaining Sufficient Nanos Is a Critical Function for Polar Granule Component in the Specification of Primordial Germ Cells

Department of Molecular Biology, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey 08544.
G3-Genes Genomes Genetics (Impact Factor: 3.2). 11/2012; 2(11):1397-403. DOI: 10.1534/g3.112.004192
Source: PubMed


Primordial germ cells (PGC) are the precursors of germline stem cells. In Drosophila, PGC specification is thought to require transcriptional quiescence and three genes, polar granule component (pgc), nanos (nos), and germ cell less (gcl) function to downregulate Pol II transcription. While it is not understood how nos or gcl represses transcription, pgc does so by inhibiting the transcription elongation factor b (P-TEFb), which is responsible for phosphorylating Ser2 residues in the heptad repeat of the C-terminal domain (CTD) of the largest Pol II subunit. In the studies reported here, we demonstrate that nos are a critical regulatory target of pgc. We show that a substantial fraction of the PGCs in pgc embryos have greatly reduced levels of Nos protein and exhibit phenotypes characteristic of nos PGCs. Lastly, restoring germ cell-specific expression of Nos is sufficient to ameliorate the pgc phenotype.

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    ABSTRACT: Germ cells must transmit genetic information across generations, and produce gametes while also maintaining the potential to form all cell types after fertilization. Preventing the activation of somatic programs is, therefore, crucial to the maintenance of germ cell identity. Studies in Caenorhabditis elegans, Drosophila melanogaster, and mouse have revealed both similarities and differences in how somatic gene expression is repressed in germ cells, thereby preventing their conversion into somatic tissues. This review will focus on recent developments in our understanding of how global or gene-specific transcriptional repression, chromatin regulation, and translational repression operate in the germline to maintain germ cell identity and repress somatic differentiation programs.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2015 · Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences CMLS