A fork head/HNF-3 homolog expressed in the pharynx and intestine of the Caenorhabditis elegans embryo

Dev Biol. 1996 Sep 15;178(2):289-303. doi: 10.1006/dbio.1996.0219.


We have cloned a member of the fork head/HNF-3 family of transcription factors from the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. Within the predicted DNA binding domain, this gene, called Ce-fkh-1, is 75-78% identical to the Drosophila fork head and rat liver HNF-3 alpha, beta, and gamma genes. Ce-fkh-1 mRNA is highly enriched in embryos. The Ce-fkh-1 gene produces three major transcripts: the longest mRNA retains its original 5'-end but two shorter mRNAs are trans-spliced at the beginning of exons 2 and 3, respectively. In situ hybridization and transgenic Ce-fkh-1::lacZ reporter constructs indicate that the Ce-fkh-1 gene is expressed in both pharynx and intestine of the embryo, beginning at the midproliferation stage. A second phase of Ce-fkh-1 expression occurs in cells of the larval somatic gonad. The pharynx-gut expression of Ce-fkh-1 in the C. elegans embryo is compared with expression of fork head throughout the gut of Drosophila embryos and with expression of HNF-3 (alpha beta gamma) in the endoderm of mammalian embryos. Such conserved patterns of gene expression point to universal features of gastrulation and of digestive tract formation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / embryology*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / genetics
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / metabolism
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins*
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Hepatocyte Nuclear Factor 3-alpha
  • Hepatocyte Nuclear Factor 3-beta
  • Hepatocyte Nuclear Factor 3-gamma
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Nuclear Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Nuclear Proteins / genetics*
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • Trans-Activators / biosynthesis
  • Trans-Activators / metabolism*
  • Transcription Factors*


  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors
  • Hepatocyte Nuclear Factor 3-alpha
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • Pha-4 protein, C elegans
  • Trans-Activators
  • Transcription Factors
  • Hepatocyte Nuclear Factor 3-gamma
  • Hepatocyte Nuclear Factor 3-beta