Hermes RNA-binding protein targets RNAs-encoding proteins involved in meiotic maturation, early cleavage, and germline development

Hye Won Song, Karen Cauffman, Agnes P. Chan, Yi Zhou, Mary Lou King, Laurence D. Etkin, Malgorzata Kloc

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


The early development of metazoans is mainly regulated by differential translation and localization of maternal mRNAs in the embryo. In general, these processes are orchestrated by RNA-binding proteins interacting with specific sequence motifs in the 3′-untranslated region (UTR) of their target RNAs. Hermes is an RNA-binding protein, which contains a single RNA recognition motif (RRM) and is found in various vertebrate species from fish to human. In Xenopus laevis, Hermes mRNA and protein are localized in the vegetal region of oocytes. A subpopulation of Hermes protein is concentrated in a specific structure in the vegetal cortex, called the germ plasm (believed to contain determinants of the germ cell fate) where Hermes protein co-localizes with Xcat2 and RINGO/Spy mRNAs. The level of total Hermes protein decreases during maturation. The precocious depletion of Hermes protein by injection of Hermes antisense morpholino oligonucleotide (HE-MO) accelerates the process of maturation and results in cleavage defects in vegetal blastomeres of the embryo. It is known that several maternal mRNAs including RINGO/Spy and Mos are regulated at the translational level during meiotic maturation and early cleavage in Xenopus. The ectopic expression of RINGO/Spy or Mos causes resumption of meiotic maturation and cleavage arrests, which resemble the loss of Hermes phenotypes. We found that the injection of HE-MO enhances the acceleration of maturation caused by the injection of RINGO/Spy mRNA, and that Hermes protein is present as mRNP complex containing RINGO/Spy, Mos, and Xcat2 mRNAs in vivo. We propose that as an RNA-binding protein, Hermes may be involved in maturation, cleavage events at the vegetal pole and germ cell development by negatively regulating the expression of RINGO/Spy, Mos, and Xcat2 mRNAs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)519-528
Number of pages10
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jul 2007


  • Cleavage
  • Germ cell development
  • Meiotic maturation
  • RNA-binding protein

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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