The establishment of Caenorhabditis elegans germline pattern is controlled by overlapping proximal and distal somatic gonad signals

Dev Biol. 2003 Jul 15;259(2):336-50. doi: 10.1016/s0012-1606(03)00203-3.


We investigated the control of proliferation and differentiation in the larval Caenorhabditis elegans hermaphrodite germ line through analysis of glp-1 and lag-2 mutants, cell ablations, and ultrastructural data. After the first several rounds of germ cell division, GLP-1, a receptor of the LIN-12/Notch family, governs germline proliferation. We analyzed the proximal proliferation (Pro) phenotype in glp-1(ar202) and found that initial meiosis was delayed and spatially mispositioned. This is due, at least in part, to a heightened response of the mutant GLP-1 receptor to multiple sources of the somatic ligand LAG-2, including the proximal somatic gonad. We investigated whether proximal LAG-2 affects germline proliferation in the wild type. Our results indicate that (1) LAG-2 is necessary for GLP-1-mediated germline proliferation and prevention of early meiosis, and (2) several distinct anatomical sources of LAG-2 in the larval somatic gonad functionally overlap to promote proliferation and prevent early meiosis. Ultrastructural studies suggest that mitosis is not restricted to areas of direct DTC-germ line contact and that the germ line shares a common cytoplasm in larval stages. We propose that downregulation of the GLP-1 signaling pathway in the proximal germ line at the time of meiotic onset is under tight temporal and spatial control.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Patterning / genetics*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / embryology*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / genetics
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / physiology
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Division
  • Cell Lineage
  • Disorders of Sex Development
  • Female
  • Germ Cells / physiology*
  • Germ Cells / ultrastructure
  • Gonads / metabolism*
  • Gonads / ultrastructure
  • Helminth Proteins / genetics
  • Larva
  • Male
  • Models, Biological
  • Mutation
  • Phenotype
  • Signal Transduction*
  • Temperature


  • Helminth Proteins