Press Release: Polar Distribution of MicroRNAs Discovered within Eukaryotic Cells (12.6.2015)

Prague, Czech Republic and Göteborg, Sweden, June 10, 2015

A central question in developmental biology is how the original fertilized oocyte gives rise to a complex organism made up of hundreds of different cell types. The key mechanism is asymmetric cell division that produces daughter cells with uneven distribution of deterministic biomolecules leading to different fates. Certain proteins and messenger RNAs (mRNAs) have previously been identified as cell fate determinants.

In a study published today in Scientific Reports from Nature Publishing Group the Institute of Biotechnology of the Czech Republic (IBT CAS), the TATAA Biocenter in Sweden, and the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg, Germany, discovered that certain microRNAs are also asymmetrically distributed within cells and may contribute as cell fate determinants. Using real-time polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) tomography that the groups developed previously and a new technique for sensitive profiling of microRNAs invented at the EMBL, the team sliced single oocytes from the frog Xenopus laevis across the animal-vegetal (top-down) axis and measured intracellular profiles of microRNAs within the individual cells.

Two distinct distributions were found. One, which is likely to form spontaneously, with the microRNAs centered on the nucleus, and one with the microRNAs predominant in the vegetal hemisphere. The 1st and 2nd divisions of the oocyte are along the animal-vegetal symmetry axis and are not affected by the microRNA gradient discovered, but the 3rd division cuts across producing two sets of four daughter cells that will be different. “This is an important discovery towards our understanding of the complex mechanisms behind asymmetric cell division leading to differentiation and the formation of advanced organisms” says Dr Radek Sindelka, group leader at the IBT and one of the lead authors.

For more information about the study, see (Sidova, M. et al. Intracellular microRNA profiles form in the Xenopus laevis oocyte that may contribute to asymmetric cell division. Sci. Rep. 5, 11157; doi: 10.1038/srep11157, 2015).

Institute of Biotechnology of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic,  v. v. i. (IBT) is the youngest Academy Institute, founded 2008.The activities of the IBT are focused on top basic research in molecular biology and prospective transfer of biotechnological methods and tools to human and veterinary medicine, or other important areas of human activity. From 1 July 2013, the Institute is involved in the project BIOCEV. International cooperation is one of the key factors for work of all our groups and is promoted at all levels at the Institute. For more information on IBT see:

About TATAA Biocenter
TATAA Biocenter is world’s largest organizer of hands-on training in quantitative real-time PCR and Next Generation Sequencing and leading provider of reagents and tools for single cell expression profiling, which is a field pioneered by TATAA researchers. Founded in 2001, TATAA Biocenter has laboratories in Gothenburg, Sweden, and Prague, Czech Republic and an office in Saarbrucken, Germany. In 2013 TATAA Biocenter was presented the Frost & Sullivan Award for Customer Value Leadership as Best-in-Class Services for Analyzing Genetic Material. For more information on TATAA Biocenter, see

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