The vasa gene product of Drosophila melanogaster is required only in the female germ line. Progeny of females homozygous for vasa mutations lack posterior structures and pole cells. Isolation and characterization of vasa genomic and complementary DNA clones show that the transcript is abundant in the female germ line and early embryos only. The predicted amino acid sequence is very similar to those of the translation initiation factor eIF-4A and the human nuclear antigen p68.
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