A strawberry notch homolog, let-765/nsh-1, positively regulates lin-3/egf expression to promote RAS-dependent vulval induction in C. elegans

Carrie L Simms, David L Baillie
Developmental Biology 2010 May 15, 341 (2): 472-85
The specification and patterning of vulval precursor cells (VPCs) in Caenorhabditiselegans is achieved using a conserved EGFR/RAS signaling pathway that is activated by the ligand lin-3/EGF, which is secreted by the neighboring somatic gonad. Previous work has demonstrated that the expression of lin-3 must be tightly regulated to ensure that only three of six equivalent VPCs are induced to differentiate into the mature vulva. Here, we have identified a novel regulator of EGFR/RAS signaling, let-765/nsh-1, that functions upstream of the pathway to promote vulval induction. let-765 encodes a conserved DExD/H box helicase protein and is the C. elegans ortholog of Drosophila strawberry notch. By investigating genetic interactions between let-765 and RAS pathway genes as well as with synthetic multivulva (synMuv) genes, we have demonstrated that let-765 positively regulates the RAS pathway and antagonizes synMuv activity at the level of lin-3/EGF. In support of these proposals, we found that LET-765 is required for producing wild-type levels of lin-3 mRNA. Mutations in let-765 result in pleiotropic phenotypes that imply its function must be required in multiple developmental processes and, together with data presented here, suggest that LET-765 promotes the expression of diverse targets, potentially through interactions with transcriptional activator or repressor complexes.


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