Xenopus vasa-like gene 1 (XVLG1), a DEAD-Box Helicase 4 (DDX4) gene identified as a vertebrate vasa homologue, is required for the formation of primordial germ cells (PGCs). However, it remains to be clarified when and how XVLG1 functions in the formation of the germ cells. To gain a better understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying XVLG1 during PGC development, we injected XVLG1 morpholino oligos into germ-plasm containing blastomeres of 32-cell stage of Xenopus embryos, and traced cell fates of the injected blastomere-derived PGCs. As a result of this procedure, migration of the PGCs was impaired and the number of PGCs derived from the blastomeres was significantly decreased. In addition, TUNEL staining in combination with in situ hybridization revealed that the loss of PGCs peaked at stage 27 was caused by apoptosis. This data strongly suggests an essential role for XVLG1 in migration and survival of the germ cells.
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Vol. 34 • No. 2