A transcription factor controlling development of peripheral sense organs in C. elegans

Nature. 1995 Jan 5;373(6509):74-8. doi: 10.1038/373074a0.


The basic-helix-loop-helix (bHLH) proteins constitute a class of transcription factors thought to be important in the control of cell-type determination. These transcription factors are believed to activate the expression of cell-type-specific genes to generate stable differentiated cell types. The expression of bHLH proteins, in turn, is regulated by spatial cues, so that switches in cell type occur in a reproducible pattern. We report here that the lin-32 gene of Caenorhabditis elegans, which encodes a bHLH protein of the Drosophila achaete-scute family of transcription factors, is necessary and in some cells sufficient for specification of the neuroblast cell fate. Similarity in the function and structure of the lin-32 protein (LIN-32) to transcription factors of the achaete-scute gene family in Drosophila and vertebrates implies that this class of transcription factors functioned in a primitive ancestral form to specify neuronal cell fate, supporting the proposition that certain basic mechanisms of cell-type determination have been conserved through metazoan evolution.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Animals, Genetically Modified
  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / genetics*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins / genetics
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins / metabolism*
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • Drosophila Proteins*
  • Genes, Helminth
  • Helix-Loop-Helix Motifs*
  • Male
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutation
  • Peripheral Nervous System / embryology*
  • Sense Organs / embryology*
  • Tail
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism*


  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Drosophila Proteins
  • LIN-32 protein, C elegans
  • Transcription Factors
  • ac protein, Drosophila
  • sc protein, Drosophila

Associated data

  • GENBANK/U15418