cis-Regulatory control of three cell fate-specific genes in vulval organogenesis of Caenorhabditis elegans and C. briggsae

Dev Biol. 2003 May 1;257(1):85-103. doi: 10.1016/s0012-1606(03)00032-0.


The great-grandprogeny of the Caenorhabditis elegans vulval precursor cells (VPCs) adopt one of the final vulA, B1, B2, C, D, E, and F cell fates in a precise spatial pattern. This pattern of vulval cell types is likely to depend on the cis-regulatory regions of the transcriptional targets of intercellular signals in vulval development. egl-17, zmp-1, and cdh-3 are expressed differentially in the developing vulva cells, providing a potential readout for different signaling pathways. To understand how such pathways interact to specify unique vulval cell types in a precise pattern, we have identified cis-regulatory regions sufficient to confer vulval cell type-specific regulation when fused in cis to the basal pes-10 promoter. We have identified the C. briggsae homologs of these three genes, with their corresponding control regions, and tested these regions in both C. elegans and C. briggsae. These regions of similarity in C. elegans and C. briggsae upstream of egl-17, zmp-1, and cdh-3 promote expression in vulval cells and the anchor cell (AC). By using the cis-regulatory analysis and phylogenetic footprinting, we have identified overrepresented sequences involved in conferring vulval and AC expression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Binding Sites
  • Cadherins / genetics
  • Cadherins / metabolism
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / embryology*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins / genetics
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins / metabolism
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental / physiology*
  • Genes, Regulator
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / genetics
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / metabolism
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • Sequence Alignment
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • Vulva / embryology*


  • CDH-3 protein, C elegans
  • Cadherins
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins
  • Egl-17 protein, C elegans
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Transcription Factors