Different levels of the C. elegans growth factor LIN-3 promote distinct vulval precursor fates

Cell. 1995 Jul 28;82(2):297-307. doi: 10.1016/0092-8674(95)90317-8.


An invariant spatial pattern of three cell fates (3 degrees-3 degrees-2 degrees-1 degree-2 degrees-3 degrees) is generated from a field of multipotent precursor cells during C. elegans vulval development. We demonstrate that the epidermal growth factor-like domain of the LIN-3 protein can induce either of two distinct vulval cell fates: a high dose of LIN-3 induces a 1 degree fate; a lower dose of LIN-3 induces a 2 degrees fate. A high dose of LIN-3 can also induce adjacent vulval precursor cells to assume 1 degree fates; thus, high levels of LIN-3 can override the lateral signaling that normally inhibits formation of adjacent 1 degree fates. We propose that the invariant pattern of vulval cell fates is generated by a graded distribution of LIN-3 that promotes different vulval fates according to local concentration and by a lateral signal that reinforces this initial bias.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Caenorhabditis / genetics
  • Caenorhabditis / physiology*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins*
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Epidermal Growth Factor / chemistry
  • Epidermal Growth Factor / physiology*
  • Female
  • Growth Substances / physiology
  • Helminth Proteins / chemistry
  • Helminth Proteins / genetics
  • Helminth Proteins / physiology*
  • Hot Temperature
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Vulva / cytology
  • Vulva / physiology*


  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins
  • Growth Substances
  • Helminth Proteins
  • Lin-3 protein, C elegans
  • Epidermal Growth Factor