The roles of two C. elegans HOX co-factor orthologs in cell migration and vulva development

Development. 2005 Mar;132(6):1413-28. doi: 10.1242/dev.01569.


Anteroposterior cell migration and patterning in C. elegans are governed by multiple, interacting signaling pathways and transcription factors. In this study, we have investigated the role of ceh-20, the C. elegans ortholog of the HOX co-factor Extradenticle (Exd/Pbx), and unc-62, the C. elegans ortholog of Homothorax (Hth/Meis/Prep), in two processes that are regulated by Hox gene lin-39: cell migration and vulva formation. As in lin-39 mutants, the anterior migrations of neuroblasts in the Q lineage are truncated in Hox co-factor mutants. Surprisingly, though, our findings suggested that the roles of ceh-20 and unc-62 are different from that of lin-39; specifically, ceh-20 and unc-62 but not lin-39 are required for the transmembrane protein MIG-13 to promote anterior migration. To our knowledge, ceh-20 and unc-62 are the only genes that have been implicated in the mig-13 pathway. We find that ceh-20 and unc-62 are also required for several steps in vulva development. Surprisingly, ceh-20 and unc-62 mutants have phenotypes that are starkly different from those of lin-39 mutants. Thus, in this process, too, ceh-20 and unc-62 are likely to have functions that are independent of lin-39.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / embryology*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins / genetics*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins / metabolism
  • Cell Movement / genetics
  • Cell Movement / physiology*
  • Female
  • Homeodomain Proteins / genetics*
  • Homeodomain Proteins / metabolism
  • Transcription Factors / genetics*
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • Vulva / embryology*


  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins
  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • Mab-5 protein, C elegans
  • Transcription Factors
  • Unc-62 protein, C elegans
  • ceh-20 protein, C elegans
  • lin-39 protein, C elegans