Embryonic lethality caused by mutations in basement membrane collagen of C. elegans

Nature. 1991 Feb 21;349(6311):707-9. doi: 10.1038/349707a0.


Basement membranes are specialized forms of extracellular matrix with important functions in development. A major structural component of basement membranes is type IV collagen, a heterotrimer of two alpha 1(IV) and one alpha 2(IV) chains, which forms a complex, polygonal network associated with other basement membrane components. Here we report that the alpha 1(IV) collagen chain of Caenorhabditis elegans is encoded by the genetic locus emb-9. Mutations in emb-9 cause temperature-sensitive lethality during late embryogenesis. We have identified single nucleotide alterations that substitute glutamic acid for glycine in the triple-helical Gly-X-Y repeat region of the alpha 1(IV) collagen in three emb-9 mutant strains. These results are direct evidence that defects in basement membranes can disrupt embryonic development and form a basis for the genetic analysis of basement membrane function.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Basement Membrane / chemistry
  • Caenorhabditis / embryology
  • Caenorhabditis / genetics*
  • Caenorhabditis / growth & development
  • Collagen / genetics*
  • Collagen / physiology
  • Humans
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutation
  • Sequence Homology, Nucleic Acid
  • Temperature


  • Collagen

Associated data

  • GENBANK/X56979