Miranda-Rodríguez, J.R., Salas-Vidal, E., Lomelí, H., Zurita, M., Schnabel, D. (2017) RhoA/ROCK pathway activity is essential for the correct localization of the germ plasm mRNAs in zebrafish embryos. Developmental Biology. 421(1):27-42.
Zebrafish germ plasm is composed of mRNAs such as vasa and nanos and of proteins such as Bucky ball, all of which localize symmetrically in four aggregates at the distal region of the first two cleavage furrows. The coordination of actin microfilaments, microtubules and kinesin is essential for the correct localization of the germ plasm. Rho-GTPases, through their effectors, coordinate cytoskeletal dynamics. We address the participation of RhoA and its effector ROCK in germ plasm localization during the transition from two- to eight-cell embryos. We found that active RhoA is enriched along the cleavage furrow during the first two division cycles, whereas ROCK localizes at the distal region of the cleavage furrows in a similar pattern as the germ plasm mRNAs. Specific inhibition of RhoA and ROCK affected microtubules organization at the cleavage furrow; these caused the incorrect localization of the germ plasm mRNAs. The incorrect localization of the germ plasm led to a dramatic change in the number of germ cells during the blastula and 24 hpf embryo stages without affecting any other developmental processes. We demonstrate that the Rho/ROCK pathway is intimately related to the determination of germ cells in zebrafish embryos.