Worm Breeder's Gazette 10(1): 117
These abstracts should not be cited in bibliographies. Material contained herein should be treated as personal communication and should be cited as such only with the consent of the author.
In a search for molecular markers of male tail development, we have detected two surface markers that are specifically expressed in the copulatory bursa of adult males and the vulva of adult hermaphrodites. One marker is defined by binding of a monoclonal antibody (Ab117) and the other by binding of the lectin wheat germ agglutinin (WGA). Both Ab117 and WGA recognize many proteins on gel blots and bind to multiple tissues in fixed animals; but they show much higher specificity in the staining of live, intact animals. In this case, Ab117 binding is restricted to the bursal cuticle in young adult males and the vulva in adult hermaphrodites; binding to the pharyngeal lining is also observed in all stages of both sexes. WGA staining of live animals is also restricted to the bursa and the vulva; in addition, the phasmid openings are stained in all animals. We have examined the expression of these markers in mutants with specific defects in sex determination, cuticle formation, developmental timing, and bursa formation. We find that: 1) Marker expression is dependent on phenotypic sex: tra-1(e1099) XX pseudomales stain like normal XO males, while her-1(ct22n695) XO hermaphrodites stain like normal XX hermaphrodites. However, the WGA marker can be expressed in her-1(n695) XX intersexual animals with little or no bursal development, so that posterior surface expression of this marker can serve as an indication of subtle masculinization of hermaphrodites. 2) Production of an adult cuticle is neither necessary nor sufficient for marker expression. Adult males and hermaphrodites carrying the retarded heterochronic mutation lin-29(n333) produce larval cuticles but can express both markers, while IA animals carrying the precocious heterochronic mutations lin14(n179) or lin-28( n719) produce adult cuticles but do not express either marker. 3) Some mutants with specific bursal defects show abnormal marker expression: mab-3(e1240) and mab-5(1239) males show reduced or no expression of both markers, while mab-7(e1599) and mab-8(e1250) males show strong bursal over-expression of the WGA (but not the Ab117) marker. Other mutants with specific (mab-1,2,6,9,10) or non-specific ( sma-2, bli-3, vab-8, rsa defects show fairly normal expression. 4) As perhaps our most interesting observation, lin-22 males, which show an anterior to posterior transformation of cell fates in the lateral hypodermis, ectopically over-express the Ab117 marker over much of the cuticle. This ectopic expression represents a novel phenotype for an interesting class of mutations which previously have been difficult to identify. We are using this phenotype as the basis for a mutant screen for more genes involved in establishing or interpreting anterior/posterior positional information.