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hunchback and Ikaros-like zinc finger genes control reproductive system development in Caenorhabditis elegans

By Edward E. Large and Laura D. Mathies

Abstract

AbstractHere we provide evidence for a C2H2 zinc finger gene family with similarity to Ikaros and hunchback. The founding member of this family is Caenorhabditis elegans ehn-3, which has important and poorly understood functions in somatic gonad development. We examined the expression and function of four additional hunchback/Ikaros-like (HIL) genes in C. elegans reproductive system development. Two genes, ehn-3 and R08E3.4, are expressed in somatic gonadal precursors (SGPs) and have overlapping functions in their development. In ehn-3; R08E3.4 double mutants, we find defects in the generation of distal tip cells, anchor cells, and spermatheca; three of the five tissues derived from the SGPs. We provide in vivo evidence that C. elegans HIL proteins have functionally distinct zinc finger domains, with specificity residing in the N-terminal set of four zinc fingers and a likely protein–protein interaction domain provided by the C-terminal pair of zinc fingers. In addition, we find that a chimeric human Ikaros protein containing the N-terminal zinc fingers of EHN-3 functions in C. elegans. Together, these results lend support to the idea that the C. elegans HIL genes and Ikaros have similar functional domains. We propose that hunchback, Ikaros, and the HIL genes arose from a common ancestor that was present prior to the divergence of protostomes and deuterostomes

Publisher: Elsevier Inc.
Year: 2010
DOI identifier: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2009.12.013
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