Sea urchin maternal mRNA classes with distinct developmental regulation

Leslie Kelso‐Winemiller*, Joonwon Yoon, Margaret T. Peeler, Matthew M. Winkler

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Previous studies of newly synthesized proteins during early development in sea urchins have revealed several different patterns of synthesis that can be used to predict the existence of mRNA classes with distinct regulatory controls. We have identified clones for abundant maternal mRNAs that are actively translated during early development by screening a cDNA library prepared from polysomal poly(A) + RNA isolated from 2‐cell stage (2‐hour) Strongylocentrotus purpuratus embryos. Probes prepared from these cDNA clones and several previously characterized maternal mRNA cDNAs were used to compare relative levels of individual mRNAs in eggs and embryos and their translational status at various developmental stages. These abundant mRNAs can be classified into two major groups which we have termed cleavage stage‐specific (CSS) and post cleavage stage (PCS) mRNAs. The relative levels of the CSS mRNAs are highest during the rapid cleavage stage and decrease dramatically at the blastula stage (12‐hours). In contrast, PCS mRNAs are present at relatively low levels during the rapid cleavage stage and then increase at the blastula stage. Polysome partition profiles reveal that CSS mRNAs are translated more efficiently than PCS mRNAs in the unfertilized egg, at fertilization, and during the cleavage stages. Following the blastula stage, some CSS transcripts move out of polysomes and accumulate as untranslated RNAs, while newly transcribed PCS mRNAS are recruited into polysomes. These data suggest that the rapid cell cycles following fertilization require high levels of specific cleavage stage proteins, and the synthesis of these proteins occurs preferentially over PCS mRNAs. © 1993Wiley‐Liss, Inc.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)397-406
Number of pages10
JournalDevelopmental Genetics
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1993


  • Cleavage stage
  • cell cycle
  • maternal mRNA
  • polysomes
  • sea urchins
  • translational regulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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