Non-translating RNAs that have undergone active translational repression are culled from the cytoplasm into P-bodies for decapping-dependent decay or for sequestration. Organisms that use microRNA-mediated RNA silencing have an additional pathway to remove RNAs from active translation. Consequently, proteins that govern microRNA-mediated silencing, such as GW182/Gw and AGO1, are often associated with the P-bodies of higher eukaryotic organisms. Due to the presence of Gw, these structures have been referred to as GW-bodies. However, several reports have indicated that GW-bodies have different dynamics to P-bodies. Here, we use live imaging to examine GW-body and P-body dynamics in the early Drosophila melanogaster embryo. While P-bodies are present throughout early embryonic development, cytoplasmic GW-bodies only form in significant numbers at the midblastula transition. Unlike P-bodies, which are predominantly cytoplasmic, GW-bodies are present in both nuclei and the cytoplasm. RNA decapping factors such as DCP1, Me31B, and Hpat are not associated with GW-bodies, indicating that P-bodies and GW-bodies are distinct structures. Furthermore, known Gw interactors such as AGO1 and the CCR4-NOT deadenylation complex, which have been shown to be important for Gw function, are also not present in GW-bodies. Use of translational inhibitors puromycin and cycloheximide, which respectively increase or decrease cellular pools of non-translating RNAs, alter GW-body size, underscoring that GW-bodies are composed of non-translating RNAs. Taken together, these data indicate that active translational silencing most likely does not occur in GW-bodies. Instead GW-bodies most likely function as repositories for translationally silenced RNAs. Finally, inhibition of zygotic gene transcription is unable to block the formation of either P-bodies or GW-bodies in the early embryo, suggesting that these structures are composed of maternal RNAs.
Patel, P. H., Barbee, S. A., & Blankenship, J. T. (2016). GW-bodies and P-bodies constitute two separate pools of sequestered non-translating RNAs. PLoS ONE, 11(3). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0150291