skn-1, a maternally expressed gene required to specify the fate of ventral blastomeres in the early C. elegans embryo

Cell. 1992 Mar 20;68(6):1061-75. doi: 10.1016/0092-8674(92)90078-q.


By the 4-cell stage of C. elegans embryogenesis, a ventral blastomere, called EMS, is already committed to producing pharyngeal and intestinal cell types. Recessive, maternal-effect mutations in the gene skn-1 prevent EMS from producing both pharyngeal and intestinal cells. In skn-1 mutant embryos, EMS instead produces hypodermal cells and body wall muscle cells, much like its sister blastomere. Genetic analysis suggests that the skn-1 gene product is also required post-embryonically for development of the intestine. We have cloned and sequenced the skn-1 gene and describe sequence similarities to the basic regions of bZIP transcription factors. We propose that the maternally expressed skn-1 gene product acts to specify the fate of the EMS blastomere.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Blastomeres / cytology*
  • Caenorhabditis / embryology
  • Caenorhabditis / genetics*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins*
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • DNA-Binding Proteins*
  • Gene Expression / genetics
  • Helminth Proteins / genetics*
  • Intestines / embryology
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Pharynx / embryology
  • Sequence Alignment
  • Transcription Factors / genetics


  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Helminth Proteins
  • Transcription Factors
  • skn-1 protein, C elegans

Associated data

  • GENBANK/M84359
  • GENBANK/S72766
  • GENBANK/S72767
  • GENBANK/S72768
  • GENBANK/S72769
  • GENBANK/S72771
  • GENBANK/S78086
  • GENBANK/S78088
  • GENBANK/S78090
  • GENBANK/X63098