Reciprocal changes in expression of the receptor lin-12 and its ligand lag-2 prior to commitment in a C. elegans cell fate decision

Cell. 1994 Dec 30;79(7):1187-98. doi: 10.1016/0092-8674(94)90010-8.


During development of the C. elegans hermaphrodite gonad, two cells interact with each other, so that one chooses to become the anchor cell (AC) and the other becomes a ventral uterine precursor cell (VU). This interaction is mediated by the receptor LIN-12 and its apparent ligand LAG-2. We show that initially lin-12 and lag-2 are expressed in both cells, but prior to commitment, the expression patterns change in a reciprocal manner, so that lin-12 expression becomes restricted to the presumptive VU and lag-2 expression becomes restricted to the presumptive AC. In addition, lin-12 activity promotes expression of lin-12 and represses expression of lag-2. Furthermore, we show that positive autoregulation of lin-12 transcription in the presumptive VU is mediated by a cis-acting 5' regulatory sequence and is necessary to specify the VU fate. Our results suggest that transcriptional control is a component of the feedback mechanism involved in specifying the AC and VU fates.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Genetically Modified
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / cytology*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / genetics
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / growth & development
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins*
  • Cell Differentiation / genetics
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Genes, Reporter
  • Gonads / cytology
  • Gonads / growth & development
  • Helminth Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • Helminth Proteins / genetics
  • Helminth Proteins / physiology
  • Membrane Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • Membrane Proteins / genetics
  • Membrane Proteins / physiology
  • Receptors, Notch
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • Transcription, Genetic


  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins
  • Helminth Proteins
  • Lin-12 protein, C elegans
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Receptors, Notch
  • lag-2 protein, C elegans