Germ plasm in Eleutherodactylus coqui, a direct developing frog with large eggs



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Background: RNAs for embryo patterning and for germ cell specification are localized to the vegetal cortex of the oocyte of Xenopus laevis. In oocytes of the direct developing frog Eleutherodactylus coqui, orthologous RNAs for patterning are not localized, raising the question as to whether RNAs and other components of germ plasm are localized in this species.Methods: To identify germ plasm, E. coqui embryos were stained with DiOC6(3) or examined by in situ hybridization for dazl and DEADSouth RNAs. The cDNAs for the E. coqui orthologues were cloned by RT-PCR using degenerate primers. To examine activity of the E. coqui orthologues, RNAs, made from constructs of their 3'UTRs with mCherry, were injected into X. laevis embryos.Results: Both DiOC6(3) and dazl and DEADSouth in situs identified many small islands at the vegetal surface of cleaving E. coqui embryos, indicative of germ plasm. Dazl was also expressed in primordial germ cells in the genital ridge. The 3'UTRs of E. coqui dazl and DEADSouth directed primordial germ cell specific protein synthesis in X. laevis.Conclusions: E. coqui utilizes germ plasm with RNAs localized to the vegetal cortex to specify primordial germ cells. The large number of germ plasm islands suggests that an increase in the amount of germ plasm was important in the evolution of the large E. coqui egg. © 2011 Elinson et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

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