MSI-1, a neural RNA-binding protein, is involved in male mating behaviour in Caenorhabditis elegans

Genes Cells. 2000 Nov;5(11):885-895. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2443.2000.00378.x.


Background: Neural RNA-binding proteins are thought to play important roles in neural development and the functional regulation of postmitotic neurones by mediating post-transcriptional gene regulation. RNA-binding proteins belonging to the Musashi family are highly expressed in the nervous system; however, their roles are poorly understood.

Results: We identified a Caenorhabditis elegans Musashi homologue, MSI-1, whose RNA-recognition motifs show extensive similarity to those of Drosophila and vertebrate Musashi proteins. We isolated a msi-1 mutant and found males with this mutation to have a mating defect. C. elegans male mating behaviour includes a distinct series of steps: response to contact, backing, turning, vulva location, spicule insertion, and sperm transfer. msi-1 is required for the turning and vulva location steps. Like other Musashi family members, MSI-1 is expressed specifically in neural cells, including male-specific neurones required for turning and vulva location. However, msi-1 was not expressed in proliferating neural progenitors in C. elegans, unlike the Musashi family genes in other systems.

Conclusions: Our results suggest that msi-1 is expressed specifically in postmitotic neurones in C. elegans. msi-1 is required for full development of male mating behaviour, possibly through regulation of msi-1 expressing neurones.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / metabolism*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins*
  • Gene Expression
  • Helminth Proteins / genetics
  • Helminth Proteins / metabolism
  • Male
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutation
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / genetics
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / metabolism
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Organ Specificity
  • RNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • RNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • Sexual Behavior, Animal / physiology*


  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins
  • Helminth Proteins
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • RNA-Binding Proteins
  • msi-1 protein, C elegans

Associated data

  • GENBANK/AB036738