Localization in Oogenesis of Maternal Regulators of Embryonic Development

  • Matias Escobar-Aguirre
  • Yaniv M. Elkouby
  • Mary C. MullinsEmail author
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 953)


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.


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



We would like to acknowledge grants from the National Institutes of Health R01GM056326 and R01GM117981 to M.C.M. and “BECAS CHILE DE DOCTORADO EN EL EXTRANJERO” to M.E.A.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Matias Escobar-Aguirre
    • 1
  • Yaniv M. Elkouby
    • 1
  • Mary C. Mullins
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Cell and Developmental BiologyUniversity of Pennsylvania Perelman School of MedicinePhiladelphiaUSA

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