Journal of Developmental Biology (Sep 2021)

Maternal Transcripts of Hox Genes Are Found in Oocytes of <i>Platynereis dumerilii</i> (Annelida, Nereididae)

  • Georgy P. Maslakov,
  • Nikita S. Kulishkin,
  • Alina A. Surkova,
  • Milana A. Kulakova

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 9, no. 3
p. 37


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Hox genes are some of the best studied developmental control genes. In the overwhelming majority of bilateral animals, these genes are sequentially activated along the main body axis during the establishment of the ground plane, i.e., at the moment of gastrulation. Their activation is necessary for the correct differentiation of cell lines, but at the same time it reduces the level of stemness. That is why the chromatin of Hox loci in the pre-gastrulating embryo is in a bivalent state. It carries both repressive and permissive epigenetic markers at H3 histone residues, leading to transcriptional repression. There is a paradox that maternal RNAs, and in some cases the proteins of the Hox genes, are present in oocytes and preimplantation embryos in mammals. Their functions should be different from the zygotic ones and have not been studied to date. Our object is the errant annelid Platynereis dumerilii. This model is convenient for studying new functions and mechanisms of regulation of Hox genes, because it is incomparably simpler than laboratory vertebrates. Using a standard RT-PCR on cDNA template which was obtained by reverse transcription using random primers, we found that maternal transcripts of almost all Hox genes are present in unfertilized oocytes of worm. We assessed the localization of these transcripts using WMISH.