The Fat-like cadherin CDH-4 controls axon fasciculation, cell migration and hypodermis and pharynx development in Caenorhabditis elegans

Dev Biol. 2008 Apr 15;316(2):249-59. doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2008.01.024. Epub 2008 Jan 31.


Cadherins are one of the major families of adhesion molecules with diverse functions during embryonic development. Fat-like cadherins form an evolutionarily conserved subgroup characterized by an unusually large number of cadherin repeats in the extracellular domain. Here we describe the role of the Fat-like cadherin CDH-4 in Caenorhabditis elegans development. Cdh-4 mutants are characterized by hypodermal defects leading to incompletely penetrant embryonic or larval lethality with variable morphogenetic defects. Independently of the morphogenetic defects cdh-4 mutant animals also exhibit fasciculation defects in the ventral and dorsal cord, the major longitudinal axon tracts, as well as migration defects of the Q neuroblasts. In addition CDH-4 is essential for establishing and maintaining the attachment between the buccal cavity and the pharynx. Cdh-4 is expressed widely in most affected cells and tissues during embryogenesis suggesting that CDH-4 functions to ensure that proper cell contacts are made and maintained during development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons / physiology*
  • Cadherins / physiology*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / embryology*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins / physiology*
  • Cell Movement / physiology*
  • Fasciculation
  • Pharynx / embryology*
  • Subcutaneous Tissue / embryology*
  • Subcutaneous Tissue / physiology


  • CDH-4 protein, C elegans
  • Cadherins
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins