Formation of two spherical Balbiani bodies along the long axis of previtellogenic oocytes in Acheta domesticus was demonstrated by differential interference microscopy. The structures form adjacent to and on opposite sides of the germinal vesicle, the anterior body first. Each migrates to the nearest pole of the elongating oocyte and retains its spherical structure until occluded from view by accumulating yolk. In situ hybridization, immunocytochemistry, and confocal immunofluorescent microscopy showed Balbiani body components to include y-tubulin, alpha-tubulin, EF1alpha, and several RNAs homologous to localized Xenopus RNAs implicated in embryonic axis formation or germ cell determination. The latter include Xcat2, Xwnt11, Xlsirt, and Xpat. Balbiani body ultrastructure includes a dense cloud of tubular mitochondria, rough ER, Golgi-like membrane aggregates, and microtubules. The results suggest that molecules and mechanisms specifying early determinative events for embryogenesis in vertebrates and insects are highly conserved and that Balbiani bodies may have a role in establishing developmental asymmetry in the cricket.
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