Sex-specific transcriptional regulation of the C. elegans sex-determining gene her-1

Mech Dev. 1991 Mar;34(1):43-55. doi: 10.1016/0925-4773(91)90090-s.


Expression of the sex-determining gene her-1 is required in C. elegans for the normal male development of XO animals. Abnormal expression in XX animals, which normally develop as hermaphrodites, results in aberrant male development. We have isolated a molecular clone of the her-1 gene and have identified two transcripts that are present in XO animals at all stages of development: an abundant 0.8 kb transcript and a less abundant 1.2 kb transcript. In preparations of XX animals, the 0.8 kb transcript was observed only at very low levels in embryos or L1 larvae and the 1.2 kb transcript was not detected. Two gain-of-function her-1 mutations result in high levels of the 1.2 and 0.8 kb transcripts in XX animals. The levels of these transcripts are also elevated in XX animals carrying a loss-of-function mutation in either sdc-1 or sdc-2, consistent with the proposed roles of these genes as negative regulators of her-1. These results demonstrate that expression of the her-1 gene in males and hermaphrodites is controlled at the level of transcript synthesis or accumulation. This mode of regulation contrasts with that found for the Drosophila sex-determining genes, whose sex-specific expression is controlled by differential splicing in males and females.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blotting, Northern
  • Caenorhabditis / embryology*
  • Caenorhabditis / metabolism
  • Chromosome Deletion
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • Disorders of Sex Development / genetics
  • Electrophoresis, Agar Gel
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Genes, Recessive
  • Polymorphism, Restriction Fragment Length
  • RNA / analysis
  • Restriction Mapping
  • Sex Determination Analysis*
  • Sex Factors*
  • Transcription, Genetic*


  • RNA