The Drosophila CPEB protein Orb specifies oocyte fate by a 39UTR-dependent autoregulatory loop

Justinn Barr, Rudolf Gilmutdinov, Linus Wang, Yulii Shidlovskii, Paul Schedl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


orb encodes one of the two fly CPEB proteins. These widely conserved proteins bind to the 39UTRs of target messenger RNAs (mRNAs) and activate or repress their translation. We show here that a positive autoregulatory loop driven by the orb gene propels the specification of oocyte identity in Drosophila egg chambers. Oocyte fate specification is mediated by a 39UTR-dependent mechanism that concentrates orb mRNAs and proteins in one of the two pro-oocytes in the 16-cell germline cyst. When the orb 39UTR is deleted, orb mRNA and protein fail to localize and all 16 cells become nurse cells. In wild type, the oocyte is specified when orb and other gene products concentrate in a single cell in region 2b of the germarium. A partially functional orb 39UTR replacement delays oocyte specification until the egg chambers reach stage 2 of oogenesis. Before this point, orb mRNA and protein are unlocalized, as are other markers of oocyte identity, and the oocyte is not specified. After stage 2, 50% of the chambers successfully localize orb in a single cell, and this cell assumes oocyte identity. In the remaining chambers, the orb autoregulatory loop is not activated and no oocyte is formed. Finally, maintenance of oocyte identity requires continuous orb activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1431-1446
Number of pages16
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Genetics


  • 3’UTR
  • Bicaudal D
  • CPEB protein
  • Cytoplasmic polyadenylation
  • Egalitarian
  • Oocyte specification
  • Orb
  • Positive autoregulation
  • mRNA cargo complex
  • mRNA localization


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