The PLZF-like protein TRA-4 cooperates with the Gli-like transcription factor TRA-1 to promote female development in C. elegans

Dev Cell. 2006 Oct;11(4):561-73. doi: 10.1016/j.devcel.2006.07.015.


The Gli-like transcription factor TRA-1 of C. elegans promotes female development by repressing the transcription of male-specific genes. We have found that tra-1 interacts with tra-4, a previously uncharacterized gene that encodes a protein similar to the human proto-oncoprotein and transcriptional repressor PLZF. In this context, the TRA-4 protein functions with NASP-1, a C. elegans homolog of the mammalian histone chaperone NASP, and the histone deacetylase HDA-1. We also found that tra-4 is a member of the synMuv B group of genes, many of which encode homologs of components of the Drosophila Myb-Muv B transcriptional repressor complex, and that several synMuv B genes also promote female development. Based on these results, we propose that male-specific genes are repressed in C. elegans hermaphrodites by the combined action of TRA-1/Gli, a complex composed of TRA-4/PLZF-like, NASP, and HDA-1/HDAC, and synMuv B proteins. Similar interactions may function in sex determination and developmental regulation in other species.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / embryology*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / genetics
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins / genetics
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins / metabolism*
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian
  • Female
  • Helminth Proteins / chemistry
  • Helminth Proteins / genetics
  • Helminth Proteins / metabolism*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • Sex Characteristics*
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism*
  • Transgenes


  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Helminth Proteins
  • TRA-4 protein, C elegans
  • Transcription Factors
  • tra-1 protein, C elegans