• Xenopus;
  • germ plasm;
  • vegetal cortex;
  • localized RNAs;
  • microarray;
  • primordial germ cells


RNA localization is a common mechanism for regulating cell structure and function. Localized RNAs in Xenopus oocytes are critical for early development, including germline specification by the germ plasm. Despite the importance of these localized RNAs, only approximately 25 have been identified and fewer are functionally characterized. Using microarrays, we identified a large set of localized RNAs from the vegetal cortex. Overall, our results indicate a minimum of 275 localized RNAs in oocytes, or 2–3% of maternal transcripts, which are in general agreement with previous findings. We further validated vegetal localization for 24 candidates and further characterized three genes expressed in the germ plasm. We identified novel germ plasm expression for reticulon 3.1, exd2 (a novel exonuclease-domain encoding gene), and a putative noncoding RNA. Further analysis of these and other localized RNAs will likely identify new functions of germ plasm and facilitate the identification of cis-acting RNA localization elements. Developmental Dynamics 239:1838–1848, 2010. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.