Tdrd6a Regulates the Aggregation of Buc into Functional Subcellular Compartments that Drive Germ Cell Specification

Elke F Roovers, Lucas J T Kaaij, Stefan Redl, Alfred W Bronkhorst, Kay Wiebrands, António M de Jesus Domingues, Hsin-Yi Huang, Chung-Ting Han, Stephan Riemer, Roland Dosch, Willi Salvenmoser, Dominic Grün, Falk Butter, Alexander van Oudenaarden, René F Ketting

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review

55 Citations (Scopus)


Phase separation represents an important form of subcellular compartmentalization. However, relatively little is known about how the formation or disassembly of such compartments is regulated. In zebrafish, the Balbiani body (Bb) and the germ plasm (Gp) are intimately linked phase-separated structures essential for germ cell specification and home to many germ cell-specific mRNAs and proteins. Throughout development, these structures occur as a single large aggregate (Bb), which disperses throughout oogenesis and upon fertilization accumulates again into relatively large assemblies (Gp). Formation of the Bb requires Bucky ball (Buc), a protein with prion-like properties. We found that the multi-tudor domain-containing protein Tdrd6a interacts with Buc, affecting its mobility and aggregation properties. Importantly, lack of this regulatory interaction leads to significant defects in germ cell development. Our work presents insights into how prion-like protein aggregations can be regulated and highlights the biological relevance of such regulatory events.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)285-301.e9
JournalDevelopmental Cell
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 06 Aug 2018


  • Animals
  • Cytoplasm/metabolism
  • Germ Cells/metabolism
  • Oocytes/metabolism
  • Oogenesis/physiology
  • Organelles/metabolism
  • RNA, Messenger/metabolism
  • Zebrafish
  • Zebrafish Proteins/metabolism


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