During Caenorhabditis elegans hermaphrodite development, the anchor cell induces the vulva and the uterine pi cells whose daughters connect to the vulva, thereby organizing the uterine-vulval connection. Both the initial selection of a single anchor cell during the anchor cell vs. ventral uterine precursor cell decision and the subsequent induction of the pi cell fate by the anchor cell are mediated by the lin-12 gene. Members of the presenilin gene family can cause early onset Alzheimer's disease when mutated and are also required for LIN-12/Notch signaling during development. We have shown that, in C. elegans, mutation of the sel-12-encoded presenilin results in pi cell induction defects. By contrast, other lin-12-mediated cell fate decisions occur normally in sel-12 mutants due to the redundant function of a second C. elegans presenilin called HOP-1. We found that the sel-12 egg-laying defect was partially rescued by expression of the sel-12 gene in the pi cells. sel-12-mediated pi cell fate specification provides a useful system for the analysis of presenilin function at single cell resolution.
Copyright 2001 Academic Press.