Regulation of cell fate in Caenorhabditis elegans by a novel cytoplasmic polyadenylation element binding protein

Dev Biol. 2001 Jan 15;229(2):537-53. doi: 10.1006/dbio.2000.9993.


The fog-1 gene of Caenorhabditis elegans specifies that germ cells differentiate as sperm rather than as oocytes. We cloned fog-1 through a combination of transformation rescue experiments, RNA-mediated inactivation, and mutant analyses. Our results show that fog-1 produces two transcripts, both of which are found in germ cells but not in the soma. Furthermore, two deletion mutants alter these transcripts and are likely to eliminate fog-1 activity. The larger transcript is expressed under the control of sex-determination genes, is necessary for fog-1 activity, and is sufficient to rescue a fog-1 mutant. This transcript encodes a novel member of the CPEB family of RNA-binding proteins. Because CPEB proteins in Xenopus and Drosophila regulate gene expression at the level of translation, we propose that FOG-1 controls germ cell fates by regulating the translation of specific messenger RNAs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / physiology*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins
  • Carrier Proteins / chemistry
  • Carrier Proteins / genetics*
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism*
  • Cell Differentiation
  • DNA Primers
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics
  • Female
  • Genotype
  • Germ Cells / cytology
  • Germ Cells / physiology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutagenesis
  • Nuclear Proteins / chemistry
  • Nuclear Proteins / genetics*
  • Nuclear Proteins / metabolism*
  • Oocytes / cytology*
  • Phylogeny
  • RNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • RNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Recombinant Proteins / metabolism
  • Recombination, Genetic
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Sequence Alignment
  • Sequence Deletion
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • Sex Differentiation
  • Spermatozoa / cytology*
  • Transcription Factors
  • Transcription, Genetic
  • Xenopus laevis / genetics
  • Zinc Fingers


  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins
  • Carrier Proteins
  • DNA Primers
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • RNA-Binding Proteins
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Transcription Factors
  • Zfpm1 protein, mouse
  • fog-1 protein, C elegans