Tissues that generate specialized cell types in a production line must coordinate developmental mechanisms with physiological demand, although how this occurs is largely unknown. In the Caenorhabditis elegans hermaphrodite, the developmental sex-determination cascade specifies gamete sex in the distal germline, while physiological sperm signaling activates MPK-1/ERK in the proximal germline to control plasma membrane biogenesis and organization during oogenesis. We discovered repeated utilization of a self-contained negative regulatory module, consisting of NOS-3 translational repressor, FEM-CUL-2 (E3 ubiquitin ligase), and TRA-1 (Gli transcriptional repressor), which acts both in sex determination and in physiological demand control of oogenesis, coordinating these processes. In the distal germline, where MPK-1 is not activated, TRA-1 represses the male fate as NOS-3 functions in translational repression leading to inactivation of the FEM-CUL-2 ubiquitin ligase. In the proximal germline, sperm-dependent physiological MPK-1 activation results in phosphorylation-based inactivation of NOS-3, FEM-CUL-2-mediated degradation of TRA-1 and the promotion of membrane organization during oogenesis.
Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.