What do you have in common with a worm? A lot, and you should be thankful! The worm C. elegans is used as a model system that allows researchers to learn an amazing amount about the genetic pathways and development in many systems, including our own. Thankfully for HighMag, the worms are quite photogenic too.
Our germ line is the line of cells that are responsible for passing on our genetic material to the next generation. The germline is composed of gametes (eggs and sperm), as well as the cells that divide to give rise to gametes. The cytoplasm of germ cells contain special aggregates of proteins and RNA called germ granules, yet their formation and function are not completely understood. A recent paper was published describing work on the germ granules, called P-granules, in the nematode C. elegans. Updike and colleagues probe further into the comparison of P-granules to nuclear pores and provide new information on the roles of different P-granule proteins. Interestingly, P-granules establish a size-exclusion barrier and are held together by hydrophobic interactions, similar to nuclear pores. Images above show the germ lines of a wild-type worm (left) and a worm with decreased levels of the P-granule protein GLH-1 (right). Without normal levels of GLH-1, the P-granules (green) were not able to localize to the surface of the nuclei (blue).
Updike, D., Hachey, S., Kreher, J., & Strome, S. (2011). P granules extend the nuclear pore complex environment in the C. elegans germ line originally published in The Journal of Cell Biology, 192 (6), 939-948 DOI: 10.1083/jcb.201010104