Influences of LIN-12/Notch and POP-1/TCF on the Robustness of Ventral Uterine Cell Fate Specification in Caenorhabditis elegans Gonadogenesis

G3 (Bethesda). 2015 Oct 19;5(12):2775-82. doi: 10.1534/g3.115.022608.


The prospective ventral uterus of the hermaphrodite gonad primordium consists of two pairs of sister cells, with each pair consisting of a proximal "α" cell and a distal "β" cell. All four cells initially are competent to become the anchor cell (AC), a unique cell type that acts as the organizer of subsequent uterine and vulval development. However, the β cells soon lose this competence and always become ventral uterine precursor cells (VUs), whereas the α cells maintain their AC competence longer, until lin-12/Notch-mediated interactions between them specify one as the AC and the other as a VU. Here, we investigate this asymmetry in developmental potential and VU fate specification between the α and β sister cells. We find evidence that lin-12 activity contributes to the robustness of βVU fate at elevated temperature, that the Caenorhabditis elegans Notch paralog glp-1 is not functionally redundant with lin-12 in specifying βVU fate, and that the activity of POP-1, the sole C. elegans TCF ortholog, influences βVU fate. We propose a model for how Wnt and LIN-12/Notch signaling together lead to robust specification of the βVU fate.

Keywords: C. elegans; Notch; POP-1; gonadogenesis; lin-12.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Animals
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / embryology*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / genetics*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins / genetics*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins / metabolism
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression
  • Genes, Reporter
  • Gonads / embryology*
  • Gonads / metabolism*
  • High Mobility Group Proteins / genetics*
  • Insulin-Secreting Cells / metabolism
  • Models, Biological
  • Mutation
  • Organogenesis / genetics*
  • Phenotype
  • Receptors, Notch / genetics*
  • Receptors, Notch / metabolism
  • TCF Transcription Factors / genetics*
  • Temperature
  • Wnt Signaling Pathway


  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • High Mobility Group Proteins
  • Lin-12 protein, C elegans
  • Receptors, Notch
  • TCF Transcription Factors
  • pop-1 protein, C elegans