Translational control of maternal glp-1 mRNA establishes an asymmetry in the C. elegans embryo

Cell. 1994 Apr 22;77(2):183-94. doi: 10.1016/0092-8674(94)90311-5.


In C. elegans, the glp-1 gene encodes a membrane receptor that is required for anterior cell fates in the early embryo. We report that GLP-1 protein is localized to anterior blastomeres in 2- to 28-cell embryos. By contrast, glp-1 mRNA is present in all blastomeres until the 8-cell stage. Furthermore, the glp-1 3' untranslated region can restrict translation of a reporter mRNA to anterior blastomeres. Therefore, the translation of maternal glp-1 mRNA is temporally and spatially regulated in the C. elegans embryo. The regulation of maternal glp-1 mRNA has striking parallels to the regulation of maternal hunchback mRNA in the Drosophila embryo. Thus, the establishment of embryonic asymmetry in diverse organisms may involve conserved mechanisms of maternal mRNA regulation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Blastomeres / metabolism*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / embryology*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / genetics
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins*
  • Gene Expression Regulation / genetics*
  • Genes, Reporter / genetics
  • Helminth Proteins / analysis
  • Helminth Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Helminth Proteins / genetics*
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / analysis
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / biosynthesis
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / genetics*
  • Microinjections
  • Models, Biological
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Oocytes / metabolism
  • Protein Biosynthesis / physiology*
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • Receptors, Notch
  • Regulatory Sequences, Nucleic Acid / genetics


  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins
  • Glp-1 protein, C elegans
  • Helminth Proteins
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptors, Notch