In many organisms, pattern formation in the embryo develops from the polarized distributions of messenger RNAs (mRNAs) in the egg. In Xenopus, the mRNA encoding Vg1, a growth factor involved in mesoderm induction, is localized to the vegetal cortex of oocytes. A protein named Vera was shown to be involved in Vg1 mRNA localization. Vera cofractionates with endoplasmic reticulum (ER) membranes, and endogenous Vg1 mRNA is associated with a subcompartment of the ER. Vera may promote mRNA localization in Xenopus oocytes by mediating an interaction between the Vg1 3' untranslated region and the ER subcompartment.
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