Worm Breeder's Gazette 14(3): 60 (June 1, 1996)
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.
Pathology Dept, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Piscataway NJ 08854.
Laminin, a major constituent of the extracellular matrix, is composed of 3 subunits, a, B and y (formerly A, B1 and B2) which are linked by covalent and non-covalent bonds. In worms epi-1 codes for the a chain and lam-1 for the B chain. The third subunit has now been found by the worm sequencing project on the X chromosome on C54D1. Sequence comparison shows that it possesses all the hallmarks of a bona fide member of the family. It is very similar to the fly y gene, being 59% identical in domain VI, 62% in domain V, 42% in IV, 53% in domain III and 13% in the predicted coiled -coil domains II & I. Having all the subunits in hand, we can now systematically study the contributions of each of the subunits to the basement membrane assembly and function. The unc-6 gene product is largely "y-like" in its laminin-related domains. We can now ask whether these "y-like" regions of UNC-6 are an evolutionary accident of the duplication of the nearby laminin y gene, or whether they confer some character to the protein that cannot be given by the related domains in the a and B subunits. Northern analysis reveals a transcript of approx 4 kb, as expected by its coding capacity, as well as a smaller transcript of 1.5 kb. This smaller transcript may be an alternatively spliced form, and we plan to perform RT-PCR experiments to investigate this. We have so far identified partial cDNAs for the gene. Analysis of embryonic expression by in situ hybridization using the method of Seydoux & Fire shows that the gene is expressed broadly during embryogenesis. However neither Seydoux nor Fire would be impressed by the quality of the embryos in the experiments and we are repeating them try to find more precisely which cell types express this gene. It is of interest to find which tissues express this ECM component, since work by the Kramer lab has raised the possibility that not all tissues that possess the type IV collagen in their ECM, synthesize it. We have also constructed 2 GFP fusions to the genomic clone to address this issue. We are also initiating a search for mutations in this gene based on the expectation that the mutant phenotypes for this gene will resemble those for epi-1 and lam-1.