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)
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)
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)
Patterning of Caenorhabditis elegans posterior structures by the Abdominal-B homolog, egl-5.
The Caenorhabditis elegans body axis, like that of other animals, is patterned by the action of Hox genes. In order to examine the function of one C. elegans Hox gene in depth, we determined the postembryonic expression pattern of egl-5, the C. elegans member of the Abdominal-B Hox gene paralog group, by means of whole-mount staining with a polyclonal antibody. A major site of egl-5 expression and function is in the epithelium joining the posterior digestive tract with the external epidermis. Patterning this region and its derived structures is a conserved function of Abd-B paralog group genes in other animals. Cells that initiate egl-5 expression during embryogenesis are clustered around the presumptive anus. Expression is initiated postembryonically in four additional mesodermal and ectodermal cell lineages or tissues. Once initiated in a lineage, egl-5 expression continues throughout development, suggesting that the action of egl-5 can be regarded as defining a positional cell identity. A variety of cross-regulatory interactions between egl-5 and the next more anterior Hox gene, mab-5, help define the expression domains of their respective gene products. In its expression in a localized body region, function as a marker of positional cell identity, and interactions with another Hox gene, egl-5 resembles Hox genes of other animals. This suggests that C. elegans, in spite of its small cell number and reproducible cell lineages, may not differ greatly from other animals in the way it employs Hox genes for regional specification during development. (+info)
A neomorphic syntaxin mutation blocks volatile-anesthetic action in Caenorhabditis elegans.
The molecular mechanisms underlying general anesthesia are unknown. For volatile general anesthetics (VAs), indirect evidence for both lipid and protein targets has been found. However, no in vivo data have implicated clearly any particular lipid or protein in the control of sensitivity to clinical concentrations of VAs. Genetics provides one approach toward identifying these mechanisms, but genes strongly regulating sensitivity to clinical concentrations of VAs have not been identified. By screening existing mutants of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, we found that a mutation in the neuronal syntaxin gene dominantly conferred resistance to the VAs isoflurane and halothane. By contrast, other mutations in syntaxin and in the syntaxin-binding proteins synaptobrevin and SNAP-25 produced VA hypersensitivity. The syntaxin allelic variation was striking, particularly for isoflurane, where a 33-fold range of sensitivities was seen. Both the resistant and hypersensitive mutations decrease synaptic transmission; thus, the indirect effect of reducing neurotransmission does not explain the VA resistance. As assessed by pharmacological criteria, halothane and isoflurane themselves reduced cholinergic transmission, and the presynaptic anesthetic effect was blocked by the resistant syntaxin mutation. A single gene mutation conferring high-level resistance to VAs is inconsistent with nonspecific membrane-perturbation theories of anesthesia. The genetic and pharmacological data suggest that the resistant syntaxin mutant directly blocks VA binding to or efficacy against presynaptic targets that mediate anesthetic behavioral effects. Syntaxin and syntaxin-binding proteins are candidate anesthetic targets. (+info)
Anterior organization of the Caenorhabditis elegans embryo by the labial-like Hox gene ceh-13.
The Caenorhabditis elegans lin-39, mab-5 and egl-5 Hox genes specify cell fates along the anterior-posterior body axis of the nematode during postembryonic development, but little is known about Hox gene functions during embryogenesis. Here, we show that the C. elegans labial-like gene ceh-13 is expressed in cells of many different tissues and lineages and that the rostral boundary of its expression domain is anterior to those of the other Hox genes. By transposon-mediated mutagenesis, we isolated a zygotic recessive ceh-13 loss-of-function allele, sw1, that exhibits an embryonic sublethal phenotype. Lineage analyses and immunostainings revealed defects in the organization of the anterior lateral epidermis and anterior body wall muscle cells. The epidermal and mesodermal identity of these cells, however, is correctly specified. ceh-13(sw1) mutant embryos also show fusion and adhesion defects in ectodermal cells. This suggests that ceh-13 plays a role in the anterior organization of the C. elegans embryo and is involved in the regulation of cell affinities. (+info)
The Caenorhabditis elegans lim-6 LIM homeobox gene regulates neurite outgrowth and function of particular GABAergic neurons.
We describe here the functional analysis of the C. elegans LIM homeobox gene lim-6, the ortholog of the mammalian Lmx-1a and b genes that regulate limb, CNS, kidney and eye development. lim-6 is expressed in a small number of sensory-, inter- and motorneurons, in epithelial cells of the uterus and in the excretory system. Loss of lim-6 function affects late events in the differentiation of two classes of GABAergic motorneurons which control rhythmic enteric muscle contraction. lim-6 is required to specify the correct axon morphology of these neurons and also regulates expression of glutamic acid decarboxylase, the rate limiting enzyme of GABA synthesis in these neurons. Moreover, lim-6 gene activity and GABA signaling regulate neuroendocrine outputs of the nervous system. In the chemosensory system lim-6 regulates the asymmetric expression of a probable chemosensory receptor. lim-6 is also required in epithelial cells for uterine morphogenesis. We compare the function of lim-6 to those of other LIM homeobox genes in C. elegans and suggest that LIM homeobox genes share the common theme of controlling terminal neural differentiation steps that when disrupted lead to specific neuroanatomical and neural function defects. (+info)
ELT-3: A Caenorhabditis elegans GATA factor expressed in the embryonic epidermis during morphogenesis.
We have identified a gene encoding a new member of the Caenorhabditis elegans GATA transcription factor family, elt-3. The predicted ELT-3 polypeptide contains a single GATA-type zinc finger (C-X2-C-X17-C-X2-C) along with a conserved adjacent basic region. elt-3 mRNA is present in all stages of C. elegans development but is most abundant in embryos. Reporter gene analysis and antibody staining show that elt-3 is first expressed in the dorsal and ventral hypodermal cells, and in hypodermal cells of the head and tail, immediately after the final embryonic cell division that gives rise to these cells. No expression is seen in the lateral hypodermal (seam) cells. elt-3 expression is maintained at a constant level in the epidermis until the 2(1/2)-fold stage of development, after which reporter gene expression declines to a low level and endogenous protein can no longer be detected by specific antibody. A second phase of elt-3 expression in cells immediately anterior and posterior to the gut begins in pretzel-stage embryos. elt-1 and lin-26 are two genes known to be important in specification and maintenance of hypodermal cell fates. We have found that elt-1 is required for the formation of most, but not all, elt-3-expressing cells. In contrast, lin-26 function does not appear necessary for elt-3 expression. Finally, we have characterised the candidate homologue of elt-3 in the nematode Caenorhabditis briggsae. Many features of the elt-3 genomic and transcript structure are conserved between the two species, suggesting that elt-3 is likely to perform an evolutionarily significant function during development. (+info)