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.

Mutant Expression of Male Copulatory Bursa Surface Markers

C. Link, C. Ehrenfels and W.B. Wood

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 
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 
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.