The C. elegans cell lineage and differentiation gene unc-86 encodes a protein with a homeodomain and extended similarity to transcription factors

Cell. 1988 Dec 2;55(5):757-69. doi: 10.1016/0092-8674(88)90132-8.


Mutations in the gene unc-86 affect development of the nematode C. elegans by altering cell lineages and cell differentiation. We molecularly cloned unc-86 by chromosomal walking from linked polymorphic genetic loci, and identified the gene by locating polymorphisms specific for unc-86 alleles. A transcript containing a 467 amino acid open reading frame was inferred from the DNA sequence of a genomic clone. The unc-86 transcript encodes a protein containing a 158 amino acid sequence, referred to as the pou ("pow") domain, which is strikingly similar to sequences found in three mammalian transcription factors. Within this conserved region, there is a homeodomain related to but distinct from homeodomains previously identified in Drosophila and other organisms. These findings suggest that unc-86 encodes a transcription factor, and that the related mammalian transcription factors may function to control cell fates and cell differentiation.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Caenorhabditis / cytology
  • Caenorhabditis / genetics*
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Chromosome Mapping
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • DNA Mutational Analysis
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics*
  • Genes
  • Genes, Homeobox*
  • Genetic Linkage
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Polymorphism, Restriction Fragment Length
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / genetics*


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Transcription Factors

Associated data

  • GENBANK/M22363