Localization in oogenesis of maternal regulators of embryonic development

Matias Escobar-Aguirre, Yaniv M. Elkouby, Mary C. Mullins*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Cell polarity generates intracellular asymmetries and functional regionalization in tissues and morphogenetic processes. Cell polarity in development often relies on mechanisms of RNA localization to specific subcellular domains to define the identity of future developing tissues. The totipotent egg of most animals illustrates in a grand way the importance of cell polarity and RNA localization in regulating multiple crucial developmental events. The polarization of the egg arises during its development in oogenesis. RNAs localize asymmetrically in the early oocyte defining its animal-vegetal (AV) axis, which upon further elaboration in mid- and late-oogenesis stages produces a mature egg with specific localized factors along its AV axis. These localized factors will define the future anterior-posterior (AP) and dorsal-ventral (DV) axes of the embryo. Furthermore, AV polarity confines germ cell determinants to the vegetal pole, from where they redistribute to the cleavage furrows of the 2- and 4-cell stage embryo, ultimately specifying the primordial germ cells (PGCs). The sperm entry region during fertilization is also defined by the AV axis. In frogs and fish, sperm enters through the animal pole, similar to the mouse where it enters predominantly in the animal half. Thus, AV polarity establishment and RNA localization are involved in all the major events of early embryonic development. In this chapter, we will review the RNA localization mechanisms in vertebrate oocytes that are key to embryonic patterning, referring to some of the groundbreaking studies in frog oocytes and incorporating the current genetic evidence from the zebrafish.

Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationAdvances in Experimental Medicine and Biology
PublisherSpringer New York LLC
Number of pages35
StatePublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameAdvances in Experimental Medicine and Biology
ISSN (Print)0065-2598
ISSN (Electronic)2214-8019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017.


  • Animal-vegetal axis
  • Axis formation
  • Balbiani body
  • Bucky ball
  • Cytoskeleton
  • Fertilization
  • Germplasm
  • Oocyte polarity
  • Oogenesis
  • RNA localization


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