Tubes and the single C. elegans excretory cell

Trends Cell Biol. 2002 Oct;12(10):479-84. doi: 10.1016/s0962-8924(02)02364-4.


The formation and regulation of tubule shape and size is fundamental to the development and function of many tissues and organs in metazoan organisms. The excretory canals of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans are a fascinating example of cell morphogenesis, as the tiny worm manages to create a complicated set of tubular epithelia within a single cell. In addition to the inherent attraction of studying this cytoengineering feat, the excretory cell provides a simple genetically tractable model for studying tubule formation and regulation of tubule diameter. Mutations in the exc genes alter the diameter of the lumenal surface of these tubules. Cloning of these genes reveals a set of proteins that both control tubule diameter and regulate the comparative growth of the apical and basal tubular surfaces.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / cytology
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / growth & development*
  • Epithelial Cells / cytology*
  • Epithelial Cells / physiology
  • Larva / cytology
  • Larva / growth & development