Evidence from mosaic analysis of the masculinizing gene her-1 for cell interactions in C. elegans sex determination

Nature. 1992 Feb 6;355(6360):551-5. doi: 10.1038/355551a0.


Sex in Caenorhabditis elegans is determined by a regulatory cascade of seven interacting autosomal genes controlled by three X-linked genes in response to the X chromosome-to-autosome (X/A) ratio. XX animals (high X/A) develop as self-fertile hermaphrodites, and XO animals (low X/A) develop as males. The activity of the first gene in the sex-determining cascade, her-1, is required for male sexual development. XO her-1 loss-of-function mutants develop as self-fertile hermaphrodites, whereas XX her-1 gain-of-function mutants develop as masculinized intersexes. By genetic mosaic analysis using a fused free duplication linking her-1 to a cell-autonomous marker gene, we show here that her-1 expression in a sexually dimorphic cell is neither necessary nor sufficient for that cell to adopt a male fate. Our results suggest that her-1 is expressed in many, possibly all, cells and that its gene product can function non-autonomously through cell interactions to determine male sexual development.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Caenorhabditis / genetics*
  • Chromosome Mapping
  • Disorders of Sex Development / genetics
  • Dosage Compensation, Genetic
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Male
  • Mosaicism*
  • Mutation
  • Pedigree
  • Phenotype
  • Sex Determination Analysis*