The C. elegans LIM homeobox gene lin-11 specifies multiple cell fates during vulval development
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LIM homeobox family members regulate a variety of cell fate choices during animal development. In C. elegans, mutations in the LIM homeobox gene lin-11 have previously been shown to alter the cell division pattern of a subset of the 2 degrees lineage vulval cells. We demonstrate multiple functions of lin-11 during vulval development. We examined the fate of vulval cells in lin-11 mutant animals using five cellular markers and found that lin-11 is necessary for the patterning of both 1 degrees and 2 degrees lineage cells. In the absence of lin-11 function, vulval cells fail to acquire correct identity and inappropriately fuse with each other. The expression pattern of lin-11 reveals dynamic changes during development. Using a temporally controlled overexpression system, we show that lin-11 is initially required in vulval cells for establishing the correct invagination pattern. This process involves asymmetric expression of lin-11 in the 2 degrees lineage cells. Using a conditional RNAi approach, we show that lin-11 regulates vulval morphogenesis. Finally, we show that LDB-1, a NLI/Ldb1/CLIM2 family member, interacts physically with LIN-11, and is necessary for vulval morphogenesis. Together, these findings demonstrate that temporal regulation of lin-11 is crucial for the wild-type vulval patterning.
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