Selective translation of mRNA controls the pattern of protein synthesis during early development of the surf clam, Spisula solidissima

Eric T. Rosenthal, Tim Hunt, Joan V. Ruderman

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168 Scopus citations


Striking changes in the pattern of protein synthesis occur shortly after the fertilization of Spisula solidissima oocytes. These changes include a strong reduction in the synthesis of prominent oocyte-specific proteins and a large increase in the synthesis of at least three proteins whose labeling dominates the pattern of protein synthesis in early embryos. Several independent lines of evidence suggest that these changes are modulated at the translational level: 1. -Oocytes and embryos contain identical sets of mRNA, as measured by cell-free translation of phenol-extracted RNA from the two developmental stages. 2. -Different sets of these messages are associated with ribosomes at the two stages. 3. -Cell-free translation of mixtures of the unextracted 12,000 × g supernatants of oocyte or embryo homogenates with reticulocyte lysate gives patterns of protein synthesis that accurately resemble the patterns of synthesis from intact cells of the cognate stage, despite the fact that these homogenates contain identical sets of mRNA. These results provide strong evidence that the alterations in the pattern of protein synthesis at fertilization are due to stage-specific utilization of different subsets of messenger RNA from a common maternal mRNA population at the two stages of development. The fact that phenol extraction of these mRNAs renders them all equally available for translation in the reticulocyte lysate implies that discrimination is achieved by selective repression of availability by some phenol-soluble component of the cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)487-494
Number of pages8
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1980
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


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