The Caenorhabditis elegans teneurin ortholog, ten-1, plays an important role in gonad and pharynx development. We found that lack of TEN-1 does not affect germline proliferation but leads to local basement membrane deficiency and early gonad disruption. Teneurin is expressed in the somatic precursor cells of the gonad that appear to be crucial for gonad epithelialization and basement membrane integrity. Ten-1 null mutants also arrest as L1 larvae with malformed pharynges and disorganized pharyngeal basement membranes. The pleiotropic phenotype of ten-1 mutant worms is similar to defects found in basement membrane receptor mutants ina-1 and dgn-1 as well as in the mutants of the extracellular matrix component laminin, epi-1. We show that the ten-1 mutation is synthetic lethal with mutations of genes encoding basement membrane components and receptors due to pharyngeal or hypodermal defects. This indicates that TEN-1 could act redundantly with integrin INA-1, dystroglycan DGN-1, and laminin EPI-1 in C. elegans development. Moreover, ten-1 deletion sensitizes worms to loss of nidogen nid-1 causing a pharynx unattached phenotype in ten-1;nid-1 double mutants. We conclude that TEN-1 is important for basement membrane maintenance and/or adhesion in particular organs and affects the function of somatic gonad precursor cells
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