Semaphorin and Eph receptor signaling guide a series of cell movements for ventral enclosure in C. elegans

Curr Biol. 2012 Jan 10;22(1):1-11. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2011.12.009. Epub 2011 Dec 22.


Background: In the last stage of the Caenorhabditis elegans body wall closure, an open pocket in the epidermis is closed by the migration of marginal epidermal P/pocket cells to the ventral midline. The cellular and molecular mechanisms of this closure remain unknown.

Results: Cells within the pocket align to form a bridge for migration of contralateral P cell pair P9/10 L,R (and neighboring P cells) to the midline. Bridge formation involves rearrangement of five sister pairs of PLX-2/plexin and VAB-1/Eph receptor expressing "plexin band" cells, of which three pairs form a scaffold for bridge assembly and two pairs form the bridge. Bridge formation requires VAB-1 kinase-dependent extension of presumptive bridge cells over scaffold cells toward the ventral midline. An unassembled vab-1 null mutant bridge obstructs P cell migration, which is largely overcome by plexin band expression of VAB-1 or VAB-1(delC) (a kinase deletion of VAB-1). VAB-1 also functions redundantly with MAB-20/semaphorin to prevent perdurant gaps between sister plexin band cells that block P cell migration.

Conclusions: The Eph receptor mediates cellular extensions required for bridge formation, independently facilitates P cell migration to the midline, and functions redundantly with PLX-2/plexin to prevent gaps in the bridge used for P9/10 cell migration in body wall closure.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Patterning
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / cytology*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / embryology*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / physiology*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins / genetics
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins / metabolism*
  • Cell Cycle Proteins / genetics
  • Cell Cycle Proteins / metabolism*
  • Cell Movement
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian / cytology
  • Epidermal Cells
  • Epidermis / embryology
  • Membrane Proteins / genetics
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism
  • Mutation
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / genetics
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / metabolism
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / genetics
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / metabolism*
  • Receptor, EphA1 / metabolism
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / genetics
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / metabolism*
  • Semaphorins / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction


  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins
  • Cell Cycle Proteins
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Plx-2 protein, C elegans
  • Receptors, Cell Surface
  • Semaphorins
  • mab-20 protein, C elegans
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases
  • Receptor, EphA1
  • vab-1 protein, C elegans