The Caenorhabditis elegans sex determining gene fem-3 is regulated post-transcriptionally

EMBO J. 1992 Jun;11(6):2303-10.


The fem-3 gene of Caenorhabditis elegans is required for male development. Both maternal and zygotic fem-3 activities are required for spermatogenesis in the XX hermaphrodite germline and for male development in somatic and germline tissues XO (male) animals. Here we show that fem-3 RNA is contributed to embryos as a maternal product and that this RNA is degraded early in embryonic development. The poly(A) tail of embryonic fem-3 RNA is substantially longer than that of adult hermaphrodites which indicates that poly(A) tail lengthening probably occurs at or soon after fertilization. During subsequent development, fem-3 poly(A) tails shorten. The amount of fem-3 RNA in XX and XO embryos is equivalent, suggesting sex-specific regulation of maternal fem-3 activity occurs post-transcriptionally. The sequence of fem-3 predicts an open reading frame that could encode a soluble protein; putative fem-3 null mutants truncate this open reading frame. We discuss the implications of these results for the regulation and function of fem-3.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Blotting, Northern
  • Caenorhabditis / embryology
  • Caenorhabditis / genetics*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins*
  • Cell Nucleus / physiology
  • Crosses, Genetic
  • Female
  • Fertilization
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Helminth Proteins / genetics
  • Male
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Ovum / physiology
  • Poly A / genetics*
  • Poly A / metabolism
  • RNA / genetics*
  • RNA / metabolism
  • RNA Processing, Post-Transcriptional*
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Restriction Mapping
  • Sex Determination Analysis*
  • Spermatogenesis


  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins
  • Helminth Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • fem-3 protein, C elegans
  • Poly A
  • RNA

Associated data

  • GENBANK/X64700
  • GENBANK/X64962
  • GENBANK/X64963
  • GENBANK/X65366
  • GENBANK/X65367
  • GENBANK/X65368
  • GENBANK/X67723
  • GENBANK/X67724
  • GENBANK/X67725
  • GENBANK/X67726