Regulation of body length and male tail ray pattern formation of Caenorhabditis elegans by a member of TGF-beta family.
We have identified a new member of the TGF-beta superfamily, CET-1, from Caenorhabditis elegans, which is expressed in the ventral nerve cord and other neurons. cet-1 null mutants have shortened bodies and male tail abnormal phenotype resembling sma mutants, suggesting cet-1, sma-2, sma-3 and sma-4 share a common pathway. Overexpression experiments demonstrated that cet-1 function requires wild-type sma genes. Interestingly, CET-1 appears to affect body length in a dose-dependent manner. Heterozygotes for cet-1 displayed body lengths ranging between null mutant and wild type, and overexpression of CET-1 in wild-type worms elongated body length close to lon mutants. In male sensory ray patterning, lack of cet-1 function results in ray fusions. Epistasis analysis revealed that mab-21 lies downstream and is negatively regulated by the cet-1/sma pathway in the male tail. Our results show that cet-1 controls diverse biological processes during C. elegans development probably through different target genes. (+info)
Alzheimer's disease: clues from flies and worms.
Presenilin mutations give rise to familial Alzheimer's disease and result in elevated production of amyloid beta peptide. Recent evidence that presenilins act in developmental signalling pathways may be the key to understanding how senile plaques, neurofibrillary tangles and apoptosis are all biochemically linked. (+info)
Alterations in the conserved SL1 trans-spliced leader of Caenorhabditis elegans demonstrate flexibility in length and sequence requirements in vivo.
Approximately 70% of mRNAs in Caenorhabditis elegans are trans spliced to conserved 21- to 23-nucleotide leader RNAs. While the function of SL1, the major C. elegans trans-spliced leader, is unknown, SL1 RNA, which contains this leader, is essential for embryogenesis. Efforts to characterize in vivo requirements of the SL1 leader sequence have been severely constrained by the essential role of the corresponding DNA sequences in SL1 RNA transcription. We devised a heterologous expression system that circumvents this problem, making it possible to probe the length and sequence requirements of the SL1 leader without interfering with its transcription. We report that expression of SL1 from a U2 snRNA promoter rescues mutants lacking the SL1-encoding genes and that the essential embryonic function of SL1 is retained when approximately one-third of the leader sequence and/or the length of the leader is significantly altered. In contrast, although all mutant SL1 RNAs were well expressed, more severe alterations eliminate this essential embryonic function. The one non-rescuing mutant leader tested was never detected on messages, demonstrating that part of the leader sequence is essential for trans splicing in vivo. Thus, in spite of the high degree of SL1 sequence conservation, its length, primary sequence, and composition are not critical parameters of its essential embryonic function. However, particular nucleotides in the leader are essential for the in vivo function of the SL1 RNA, perhaps for its assembly into a functional snRNP or for the trans-splicing reaction. (+info)
The Caenorhabditis elegans sex determination gene mog-1 encodes a member of the DEAH-Box protein family.
In the Caenorhabditis elegans hermaphrodite germ line, the sex-determining gene fem-3 is repressed posttranscriptionally to arrest spermatogenesis and permit oogenesis. This repression requires a cis-acting regulatory element in the fem-3 3' untranslated region; the FBF protein, which binds to this element; and at least six mog genes. In this paper, we report the molecular characterization of mog-1 as well as additional phenotypic characterization of this gene. The mog-1 gene encodes a member of the DEAH-box family. Three mog-1 alleles possess premature stop codons and are likely to be null alleles, and one is a missense mutation and is likely to retain residual activity. mog-1 mRNA is expressed in both germ line and somatic tissues and appears to be ubiquitous. The MOG-1 DEAH-box protein is most closely related to proteins essential for splicing in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, but splicing appears to occur normally in a mog-1-null mutant. In addition to its involvement in the sperm-oocyte switch and control of fem-3, zygotic mog-1 is required for robust germ line proliferation and for normal growth during development. We suggest that mog-1 plays a broader role in RNA regulation than previously considered. (+info)
NMD3 encodes an essential cytoplasmic protein required for stable 60S ribosomal subunits in Saccharomyces cerevisiae.
A mutation in NMD3 was found to be lethal in the absence of XRN1, which encodes the major cytoplasmic exoribonuclease responsible for mRNA turnover. Molecular genetic analysis of NMD3 revealed that it is an essential gene required for stable 60S ribosomal subunits. Cells bearing a temperature-sensitive allele of NMD3 had decreased levels of 60S subunits at the nonpermissive temperature which resulted in the formation of half-mer polysomes. Pulse-chase analysis of rRNA biogenesis indicated that 25S rRNA was made and processed with kinetics similar to wild-type kinetics. However, the mature RNA was rapidly degraded, with a half-life of 4 min. Nmd3p fractionated as a cytoplasmic protein and sedimented in the position of free 60S subunits in sucrose gradients. These results suggest that Nmd3p is a cytoplasmic factor required for a late cytoplasmic assembly step of the 60S subunit but is not a ribosomal protein. Putative orthologs of Nmd3p exist in Drosophila, in nematodes, and in archaebacteria but not in eubacteria. The Nmd3 protein sequence does not contain readily recognizable motifs of known function. However, these proteins all have an amino-terminal domain containing four repeats of Cx2C, reminiscent of zinc-binding proteins, implicated in nucleic acid binding or protein oligomerization. (+info)
The nuclear receptor superfamily has undergone extensive proliferation and diversification in nematodes.
The nuclear receptor (NR) superfamily is the most abundant class of transcriptional regulators encoded in the Caenorhabditis elegans genome, with >200 predicted genes revealed by the screens and analysis of genomic sequence reported here. This is the largest number of NR genes yet described from a single species, although our analysis of available genomic sequence from the related nematode Caenorhabditis briggsae indicates that it also has a large number. Existing data demonstrate expression for 25% of the C. elegans NR sequences. Sequence conservation and statistical arguments suggest that the majority represent functional genes. An analysis of these genes based on the DNA-binding domain motif revealed that several NR classes conserved in both vertebrates and insects are also represented among the nematode genes, consistent with the existence of ancient NR classes shared among most, and perhaps all, metazoans. Most of the nematode NR sequences, however, are distinct from those currently known in other phyla, and reveal a previously unobserved diversity within the NR superfamily. In C. elegans, extensive proliferation and diversification of NR sequences have occurred on chromosome V, accounting for > 50% of the predicted NR genes. (+info)
Characterization of a mutant pancreatic eIF-2alpha kinase, PEK, and co-localization with somatostatin in islet delta cells.
Phosphorylation of eukaryotic translation initiation factor-2alpha (eIF-2alpha) is one of the key steps where protein synthesis is regulated in response to changes in environmental conditions. The phosphorylation is carried out in part by three distinct eIF-2alpha kinases including mammalian double-stranded RNA-dependent eIF-2alpha kinase (PKR) and heme-regulated inhibitor kinase (HRI), and yeast GCN2. We report the identification and characterization of a related kinase, PEK, which shares common features with other eIF-2alpha kinases including phosphorylation of eIF-2alpha in vitro. We show that human PEK is regulated by different mechanisms than PKR or HRI. In contrast to PKR or HRI, which are dependent on autophosphorylation for their kinase activity, a point mutation that replaced the conserved Lys-614 with an alanine completely abolished the eIF-2alpha kinase activity, whereas the mutant PEK was still autophosphorylated when expressed in Sf-9 cells. Northern blot analysis indicates that PEK mRNA was predominantly expressed in pancreas, though low expression was also present in several tissues. Consistent with the high levels of mRNA in pancreas, the PEK protein was only detected in human pancreatic islets, and the kinase co-localized with somatostatin, a pancreatic delta cell-specific hormone. Thus PEK is believed to play an important role in regulating protein synthesis in the pancreatic islet, especially in islet delta cells. (+info)
Characterization of a Caenorhabditis elegans recA-like gene Ce-rdh-1 involved in meiotic recombination.
A recA-like gene was identified in the Caenorhabditis elegans genome project database. The putative product of the gene, termed Ce-rdh-1 (C. elegans RAD51 and DMC1/LIM15 homolog 1), consists of 357 amino acid residues. The predicted amino acid sequence of Ce-rdh-1 showed 46-60% identity to both RAD51 type and DMC1/LIM15 type genes in several eukaryote species. The results of RNAi (RNA-mediated interference) indicated that repression of Ce-rdh-1 blocked chromosome condensation of six bivalents and dissociation of chiasmata in oocytes of F1 progeny. Oogenesis did not proceed to the diakinesis stage. Accordingly, all the eggs produced (F2) died in early stages. These results suggest that Ce-rdh-1 participates in meiotic recombination. (+info)