• Role of microtubules and motor proteins in mRNA localization

      Sanghavi, Paulomi; Department of Cellular Biology and Anatomy (2015-08)
      Establishment of polarity is essential for many cell types to perform their functions. A common mechanism that is used to establish polarity is localization of mRNAs at specific sites. This results in spatial restriction of protein expression. mRNA localization is a widespread phenomenon, occurring in most species. However, the mechanism by which mRNAs are localized is poorly understood. Using Drosophila as the model system, we investigated the localization of one such localized transcript, oskar mRNA. Studying the mechanism by which oskar mRNA is localized is important because many factors involved in localizing this transcript also function in localizing mRNAs in mammalian neurons. oskar mRNA localizes at the posterior pole of the Drosophila oocyte. This results in the posterior restriction of Oskar protein, which is turn functions in establishment of polarity in the oocyte and the future embryo. Localization of oskar mRNA is microtubule-dependent. We, therefore, characterized the polarity of microtubules in the oocyte. Our findings suggest that the posterior region is highly enriched in microtubule plus ends. However, this polarization is not essential for oskar mRNA localization. Secondly, the posterior localization of oskar mRNA was shown to be mediated primarily by the Kinesin-1 motor. Our findings demonstrate the role of an additional motor, Dynein, in this pathway. We found that Dynein associates with oskar mRNA in vivo and depletion of Dynein caused a significant delocalization of oskar mRNA. Next, we examined the role of a Dynein adaptor, Egalitarian (Egl), in the oskar mRNA localization pathway. Egl has been shown to recruit localized mRNAs to the Dynein motor in Drosophila embryos. Our results suggest that Egl associates with oskar mRNA in vivo and is required for the posterior localization of this transcript. Interestingly, one of the mechanisms by which Egl affects the localization of oskar mRNA is by affecting the microtubule polarity in the oocyte. Additionally, depletion of Egl caused precocious translation of oskar mRNA in the oocyte. Thus, our findings revealed a novel function for Egl in organizing oocyte microtubules and in regulating the translation of a localized mRNA.