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This article is part of the Research Topic

RNA Regulation in Development and Disease

Review ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Genet. | doi: 10.3389/fgene.2019.00135

Drosophila mRNA localization during later development: past, present, and future

 Andrew J. Simmonds1* and Sarah C. Hughes1, 2
  • 1Department of Cell Biology, Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Alberta, Canada
  • 2Medical Microbiology, Department of Medical Genetics, Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry, University of Alberta, Canada

Multiple mechanisms tightly regulate mRNAs during their transcription, translation and degradation. Of these, physical localization of mRNAs to specific cytoplasmic regions is relatively easy to detect; however, linking localization to functional regulatory roles has been harder to establish. Historically, Drosophila melanogaster has been a highly effective model for identifying localized mRNAs and has helped identify roles for this process in regulating various cell activities. The majority of the well-characterized functional roles for localizing mRNAs to sub-regions of the cytoplasm has come from the Drosophila oocyte and early syncytial embryo. At present, relatively few functional roles have been established for mRNA localization within the relatively smaller, differentiated somatic cell lineages characteristic of later development beginning with the cellular blastoderm, and the multiple cell lineages that make up the gastrulating embryo, larva, and adult.
This review is divided into three parts — the first outlines past evidence for cytoplasmic mRNA localization affecting aspects of cellular activity post-blastoderm development in Drosophila. The majority of these known examples come from highly polarized cell lineages such as differentiating neurons. The second part considers the present state of affairs where we now know that many, if not most mRNAs are localized to discrete cytoplasmic regions in one or more somatic cell lineages of cellularized embryos, larvae or adults. Assuming that the phenomenon of cytoplasmic mRNA localization represents underlying functional activity, the correlation regarding the encoded proteins suggests that mRNA localization is involved in far more than neuronal differentiation. Thus, it seems highly likely that past-identified examples represent only a small fraction of localization-based mRNA regulation in somatic cells. The last part highlights recent technological advances that now provide an opportunity for probing the role of mRNA localization in Drosophila, moving beyond cataloging the diversity of localized mRNAs to a similar understanding of how this affects mRNA activity.

Keywords: Drosophila melanogaster, mRNA localization, translation regulation, organelle, Neuronal differentiation and development

Received: 21 Aug 2018; Accepted: 11 Feb 2019.

Edited by:

Chiara Gamberi, Concordia University, Canada

Reviewed by:

Dorothy Lerit, Emory University School of Medicine, United States
Eugenia Olesnicky Killian, University of Colorado Colorado Springs, United States  

Copyright: © 2019 Simmonds and Hughes. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Andrew J. Simmonds, Department of Cell Biology, Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Alberta, Edmonton, T6G 2H7, Alberta, Canada, andrew.simmonds@ualberta.ca