Heterochronic genes control cell cycle progress and developmental competence of C. elegans vulva precursor cells

Cell. 1996 Mar 8;84(5):667-76. doi: 10.1016/s0092-8674(00)81045-4.


Heterochronic genes control the timing of vulval development in the C. elegans hermaphrodite. lin-14 or lin-28 loss-of-function mutations cause the vulval precursor cells (VPCs) to enter S phase and to divide one larval stage earlier than in the wild type. A precocious vulva is formed by essentially normal cell lineage patterns, governed by the same intercellular signals as in the wild type. Mutations that prevent the normal developmental down-regulation of lin-14, activity delay or block VPC division and prevent vulval differentiation. A genetic pathway that includes lin-4, lin-14, and lin-28 controls when VPCs complete G1 and also controls when VPCs acquire the competence to respond to the intercellular patterning signals and express vulval fates.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / genetics*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / growth & development*
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Division
  • Cell Nucleus / physiology
  • DNA, Helminth / analysis
  • Female
  • Gene Expression
  • Genes, Helminth*
  • Genotype
  • Hydroxyurea / pharmacology
  • Mutation
  • Phenotype
  • Recombinant Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Temperature
  • Time Factors
  • Vulva / cytology
  • Vulva / growth & development*
  • beta-Galactosidase / analysis
  • beta-Galactosidase / biosynthesis


  • DNA, Helminth
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • beta-Galactosidase
  • Hydroxyurea