Indexed on: 09 Feb '10Published on: 09 Feb '10Published in: Genome / National Research Council Canada = Genome / Conseil national de recherches Canada
The formation of a fully developed gamete from an undifferentiated germ cell requires progression through numerous developmental stages and cell fate decisions. The precise timing and level of gene expression guides cells through these stages. Translational regulation is highly utilized in the germ line of many species, including Caenorhabditis elegans, to regulate gene expression and ensure the proper formation of gametes. In this review, we discuss some of the developmental stages and cell fate decisions involved in the formation of functional gametes in the C. elegans germ line in which translational control has been implicated. These stages include the mitosis versus meiosis decision, the sperm/oocyte decision, and gamete maturation. We also discuss some of the techniques used to identify mRNA targets; the identification of these targets is necessary to clearly understand the role each RNA-binding protein plays in these decisions. Relatively few mRNA targets have been identified, thus providing a major focus for future research. Finally, we propose some reasons why translational control may be utilized so heavily in the germ line. Given that many species have this substantial reliance on translational regulation for the control of gene expression in the germ line, an understanding of translational regulation in the C. elegans germ line is likely to increase our understanding of gamete formation in general.