Invited Reviews

Transcription and masking of mRNA in germ cells: involvement of Y-box proteins

Chromosoma 104: 469-478 (1996)
 - PMID/doi: 8625735
Authors: Sommerville J, Ladomery M


Gametogenesis is directed by various specialized genetic mechanisms which, to a considerable extent, apply to the production of both eggs and sperm and have been conserved across a wide spectrum of eukaryotic organisms. Two key aspects which are discussed here are: germ-cell-specific gene transcription; and translational repression (masking) of mRNA accumulated in oocytes and spermatocytes/spermatids. Together, these two processes conspire to deliver often large amounts of essential proteins at the appropriate stages of development. It is perhaps not surprising that recent evidence points to a functional link between transcription activation and translation repression, both processes being determined in the nucleus and involving common components. One set of components which has been studied recently are members of the Y-box family of regulatory proteins Most information of the involvement of Y-box proteins in germ cell development comes from studies on amphibian oocytes and mammalian spermatids. In these cells, Y-box proteins have been detected as major components of both maternal and paternal mRNP particles and have been shown to be instrumental in the masking process. Y-box proteins are also implicated in the regulation of several germ-cell-specific genes. Possible connections between these processes are discussed.