Background: Extracellular leucine-rich repeat (eLRR) proteins are a highly diverse superfamily of membrane-associated or secreted proteins. In the membrane-associated eLRR proteins, the leucine-rich repeat motifs interact with the extracellular matrix and other ligands. Characterizing their functions in animal model systems is key to deciphering their activities in various developmental processes.
Results: In this study, we identify pan-1 as a critical regulator of C. elegans larval development. pan-1 encodes both transmembrane and cytoplasmic isoforms that vary in the presence and number of leucine-rich repeats. RNAi experiments reveal that pan-1 is required for developmental processes that occur during the mid to late larval stages. Specifically, pan-1 loss of function causes a late larval arrest with a failure to complete development of the gonad, vulva, and hypodermis. pan-1 is also required for early larval ecdysis and execution of the molting cycle at the adult molt. We also provide evidence that pan-1 functionally interacts with the heterochronic gene lin-29 during the molting process.
Conclusions: We show that PAN-1 is a critical regulator of larval development. Our data suggests that PAN-1 promotes developmental progression of multiple tissues during the transition from a larva to a reproductive adult. We further demonstrate that the activity of PAN-1 is complex with diverse roles in the regulation of animal development.