Spatial and molecular cues for cell outgrowth during C. elegans uterine development

Dev Biol. 2014 Dec 1;396(1):121-35. doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2014.09.028. Epub 2014 Oct 2.


The Caenorhabditis elegans uterine seam cell (utse) is an H-shaped syncytium that connects the uterus to the body wall. Comprising nine nuclei that move outward in a bidirectional manner, this synctium undergoes remarkable shape change during development. Using cell ablation experiments, we show that three surrounding cell types affect utse development: the uterine toroids, the anchor cell and the sex myoblasts. The presence of the anchor cell (AC) nucleus within the utse is necessary for proper utse development and AC invasion genes fos-1, cdh-3, him-4, egl-43, zmp-1 and mig-10 promote utse cell outgrowth. Two types of uterine lumen epithelial cells, uterine toroid 1 (ut1) and uterine toroid 2 (ut2), mediate proper utse outgrowth and we show roles in utse development for two genes expressed in the uterine toroids: the RASEF ortholog rsef-1 and Trio/unc-73. The SM expressed gene unc-53/NAV regulates utse cell shape; ablation of sex myoblasts (SMs), which generate uterine and vulval muscles, cause defects in utse morphology. Our results clarify the nature of the interactions that exist between utse and surrounding tissue, identify new roles for genes involved in cell outgrowth, and present the utse as a new model system for understanding cell shape change and, putatively, diseases associated with cell shape change.

Keywords: C. elegans; Cell outgrowth; Nav; Nuclear migration; Rab; Trio.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Genetically Modified
  • Cadherins / metabolism
  • Caenorhabditis elegans
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins / genetics*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins / metabolism
  • Cell Lineage
  • Cell Movement
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism
  • Female
  • Frizzled Receptors / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental*
  • Genotype
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism
  • Models, Biological
  • Organogenesis / genetics
  • Phenotype
  • Plasmids / metabolism
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-fos / metabolism
  • RNA Interference
  • Signal Transduction
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • Uterus / embryology*
  • Vulva / embryology*
  • rab GTP-Binding Proteins / metabolism


  • CDH-3 protein, C elegans
  • Cadherins
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins
  • Egl-43 protein, C elegans
  • FOS-1 protein, C elegans
  • Frizzled Receptors
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Mig-1 protein, C elegans
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-fos
  • Transcription Factors
  • him-4 protein, C elegans
  • rab GTP-Binding Proteins