Helde, K.A. and Grunwald, D.J. (1993) The DVR-1 (Vg1) transcript of zebrafish is maternally supplied and distributed throughout the embryo. Developmental Biology. 159:418-426.
It is not known how region- or tissue-specific differences are generated in the zebrafish embryo. To look at the potential role of maternal transcripts in generating cell diversity, we have isolated and characterized the zebrafish homologue of Xenopus DVR-1 (Vg1), a maternally supplied RNA that encodes a member of the transforming growth factor-beta superfamily. The zebrafish DVR-1 RNA is maternally supplied and its protein product shares a high degree of sequence identity with Xenopus DVR-1. These conserved features indicate that DVR-1 is likely to have an essential function in early embryogenesis. However, unlike the frog transcript, which is restricted to vegetal cells, DVR-1 RNA is distributed equally among all zebrafish blastomeres. We suggest that the ubiquitous distribution of DVR-1 RNA reflects a significant aspect of the developmental strategy of the zebrafish in which each blastomere retains an equivalent developmental potential throughout the cleavage period.