Germ cells are the cells which ultimately give rise to mature sperm and eggs. In model organisms such as flies and worms, several genes that are required for formation and maintenance of germ cells have been identified and their interactions are rapidly being delineated. By contrast, little is known of the genes required for development of human germ cells and it is not clear whether findings from model organisms will translate into knowledge of human germ cell development, especially given observations that reproductive pathways may evolve more rapidly than somatic pathways. The Pumilio and Nanos genes have been especially well-characterized in model organisms and encode proteins that interact and are required for development of germ stem cells in one or both sexes. Here we report the first characterization of a mammalian Nanos homolog, human NANOS1 (NOS1). We show that human NOS1 protein interacts with the human PUMILIO-2 (PUM2) protein via highly conserved domains to form a stable complex. We also show that in men, the NOS1 and PUM2 proteins are particularly abundant in germline stem cells. These observations mirror those in distant species and document for the first time a conserved protein-protein interaction in germ cells from flies to humans. These results suggest the possibility that the interaction of PUM2 and NOS1 may play a conserved role in germ cell development and maintenance in humans as in model organisms.
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Acknowledgements We thank Maria M. Konarska, Daniel F. Ortiz, Krzysztof Kula, Frederick L. Moore, Eugene Y. Xu, and Mark S. Fox for helpful discussions. This work was supported by grants from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (M.K.), the Polish State Committee for Scientific Research (P05E 018 33 to J.J. and 6 P05E 001 21 to K.K.) and the National Institutes of Health, the Searle Foundation and the Sandler Family Foundation (R.A.R.P.).
- Germ cell formation
- Germ plasm
- Germline expression