Exogenous tau RNA is localized in oocytes: Possible evidence for evolutionary conservation of localization mechanisms

Pninit Litman*, Lea Behar, Zichrini Elisha, Joel K. Yisraeli, Irith Ginzburg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


The multistep pathway leading to intracellular RNA localization is known to involve cis acting signals in targeted mRNAs, which are presumably recognized by specific RNA-binding proteins and interact with a functional cytoskeleton. Tau RNA is localized to the proximal hillock of rat axons, and this movement requires intact microtubules. Because Xenopus oocytes demonstrate a clear polarity involving microtubule-mediated RNA localization, we have studied the distribution of tau RNA injected into oocytes. We find that a fragment from the 3'-untranslated region of tau RNA is localized to the vegetal cortex of stage III/IV oocytes in a distribution indistinguishable from Vg1 RNA, a vegetally localized oocyte mRNA. A fragment from the tau RNA coding region, however, is homogeneously distributed in oocytes. Tau RNA contains a functional binding site for Vg1 RBP, a Xenopus microtubule-associated protein that binds vegetally localized oocyte RNAs with high affinity, and this binding correlates with vegetal localization ability. The present studies demonstrate, for the first time, localization of heterologous RNA in oocytes. Given the role of Vg1 RBP as a mediator of specific RNA-microtubule interactions, these results are strong evidence that Vg1 RBP is involved in the vegetal localization of RNAs in oocytes and raise the intriguing possibility of the existence of proteins with similar function in neurons.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)86-94
Number of pages9
JournalDevelopmental Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 25 May 1996

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by grants (to I.G.) from the Basic Research Foundation (Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities), the German±Israeli Foundation (GIF), the Forschheimer Center for Molecular Genetics, and the Saul A. Silverman Family Foundation, Toronto. This study was also supported by grants (to J.K.Y.) from the Wolfson Research Awards (administered by the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities), and the Council for Tobacco Research, USA. J.K.Y. is an ICRF fellow. We thank Mrs. S. Smith for editorial aid.


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