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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Translation of Xenopus liver messenger RNA in Xenopus oocytes: vitellogenin synthesis and conversion to yolk platelet proteins.

Xenopus liver vitellogenin and albumin mRNAs injected into Xenopus oocytes are correctly translated, as shown by specific immunoprecipitation and co-electrophoresis with purified Xenopus vitellogenin (molecular weight 210,000 daltons) and albumin (molecular weight 72,000 daltons). Vitellogenin made in oocytes under the direction of injected liver mRNA is unstable compared to other proteins made on injected messengers (such as albumin and globin) and endogenous oocyte proteins (including actin), the half-life of newly made vitellogenin being about 8 hr. Pulse-chase experiments with 35S-methionine show vitellogenin to be a precursor to yolk platelet lipovitellin (molecular weight 120,000 daltons), while 3H-serine labeling demonstrates conversion to phosvitin (molecular weight 34,000 daltons). In contrast, injected 3H-serine 35S-methionine-labeled Xenopus vitellogenin protein is not converted to yolk platelet proteins and is degraded rather slowly (half-life, 23, 29 hr). Phosphorylation of serine residues in phosvitin can be detected in oocytes injected with 32PO4 or gamma-32P-ATP; thus exogenously derived yolk platelet protein is further modified, or turned over, once it is within the oocyte. Moreover, vitellogenin made in oocytes programed with liver mRNA is phosphorylated. Thus phosphorylation, assembly into yolk platelets, and cleavage are events that do not require vitellogenin supplied by the normal pathoways involved in yolk formation (synthesis and post-translational modification in the liver, transport in the serum, and follicle cell-dependent pinocytosis). Vitellogenin mRNA sediments at about 29S in a sucrose-SDS gradient, while albumin messenger peaks at 16S; both species contain poly(A). These liver mRNAs are functionally stable in oocytes for at least 5 days. Vitellogenin-forming activity, relative to albumin, actin, or total endogenous activity, increases with time, and the final rate of 2-2.5 times the initial rate is only reached 3 days after injection. The potentiation effect probably stems from an increase in the efficiency of translation of vitellogenin mRNA. The availability of homologous mRNAs now permits injected messenger to be used as a valide probe of oocyte function; the biological activity of mRNA from a non-ovarian Xenopus tissue proves that some at least of the translational systems within the Xenopus oocyte are not cell type-specific. Moreover, the whole cell system is eminently suitable for assaying putative translational (and possibly transcriptional) control elements from frog liver.[1]


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