The 3'UTR of the Drosophila CPEB translation factor gene orb2 plays a crucial role in spermatogenesis.
CPEB proteins are conserved translation regulators involved in multiple biological processes. One of these proteins in Drosophila, Orb2, is a principal player in spermatogenesis. It is required for meiosis and spermatid differentiation. During the later process, orb2 mRNA and protein are localized within the developing spermatid. To evaluate the role of the orb2 mRNA 3'UTR in spermatogenesis, we used the CRISPR/Cas9 system to generate a deletion of the orb2 3'UTR, orb2R. This deletion disrupts the process of spermatid differentiation but has no apparent effect on meiosis. Differentiation abnormalities include defects in the initial polarization of the 64-cell spermatid cysts, mislocalization of mRNAs and proteins in the elongating spermatid tails, altered morphology of the elongating spermatid tails, and defects in the assembly of the individualization complex. These disruptions in differentiation appear to arise because orb2 mRNA and protein are not properly localized within the 64-cell spermatid cyst.