Tissue-Specific Regulation of the LIM Homeobox Gene lin-11 during Development of the Caenorhabditis elegans Egg-Laying System
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The egg-laying system of Caenorhabditis elegans hermaphrodites requires development of the vulva and its precise connection with the uterus. This process is regulated by LET-23-mediated epidermal growth factor signaling and LIN-12-mediated lateral signaling pathways. Among the nuclear factors that act downstream of these pathways, the LIM homeobox gene lin-11 plays a major role. lin-11 mutant animals are egg-laying defective because of the abnormalities in vulval lineage and uterine seam-cell formation. However, the mechanisms providing specificity to lin-11 function are not understood. Here, we examine the regulation of lin-11 during development of the egg-laying system. Our results demonstrate that the tissue-specific expression of lin-11 is controlled by two distinct regulatory elements that function as independent modules and together specify a wild-type egg-laying system. A uterine pi lineage module depends on the LIN-12/Notch signaling, while a vulval module depends on the LIN-17-mediated Wnt signaling. These results provide a unique example of the tissue-specific regulation of a LIM homeobox gene by two evolutionarily conserved signaling pathways. Finally, we provide evidence that the regulation of lin-11 by LIN-12/Notch signaling is directly mediated by the Su(H)/CBF1 family member LAG-1.
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