Functional equivalence of germ plasm organizers

by Pritesh Krishnakumar, Stephan Riemer, Roshan Perera, Thomas Lingner, Alexander Goloborodko, Hazem Khalifa, Franck Bontems, Felix Kaufholz, Mohamed A. El-Brolosy, Roland Dosch

The proteins Oskar (Osk) in Drosophila and Bucky ball (Buc) in zebrafish act as germ plasm organizers. Both proteins recapitulate germ plasm activities but seem to be unique to their animal groups. Here, we discover that Osk and Buc show similar activities during germ cell specification. Drosophila Osk induces additional PGCs in zebrafish. Surprisingly, Osk and Buc do not show homologous protein motifs that would explain their related function. Nonetheless, we detect that both proteins contain stretches of intrinsically disordered regions (IDRs), which seem to be involved in protein aggregation. IDRs are known to rapidly change their sequence during evolution, which might obscure biochemical interaction motifs. Indeed, we show that Buc binds to the known Oskar interactors Vasa protein and nanos mRNA indicating conserved biochemical activities. These data provide a molecular framework for two proteins with unrelated sequence but with equivalent function to assemble a conserved core-complex nucleating germ plasm.

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