Worm Breeder's Gazette 14(4): 26 (October 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.
NEC Fundamental Research Laboratories, Miyukigaoka 34, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305, Japan
Lithium (Li) has long been known to have teratogenic effects on the development of many organisms, including sea urchin, Xenopus and Dictyostelium. In Li-treated Xenopus embryos, ventral blastmeres are respecified to develop into dorsal structures, leading to dorsalized embryos lacking ventral mesodermal tissues. In Dictyostelium, Li alters the fate of prespore cells to become prestalk cells instead. Besides teratogenic effects, Li is also known to bea most effective treatment of manic-depressive illness. Although several models have been proposed to explain Li action, the molecular mechansm remains unclear. The most widely accepted model is the inositol depletion hypothesis, in which Li is thought to affect inositol phosphate turnover by inhibiting inositol monophosphatase, thus resulting in the depletion of endogenous inositol. To understand the mechanism of Li action, I first examined the effect of Li on C. elegans embryogenesis. I inoculated N2 animals at the late L4 stage onto NG plates containing 20 mM LiCl, incubated them at 20 C and observed the laid embryos. The number of eggs produced by treated animals was reduced to about half of the untreated control. Although cell division seemed to proceed, no embryos hatched on Li plates. Treated-embryos developed to produce gut granules, but did not execute normal morphogenesis at later embryonic stages. To identify genes involved in the action of Li, I have begun to screen for Li-resistant mutants, which propagated on Li-containing medium. So far, I obtained one mutant. The mutation was tentatively assigned to chromosome V. Preliminary genetic analysis showed that the mutation showed maternal effect. On Li plates, the hatching rate of mutant eggs cross-fertilized by wild-type males was essentially the same as that for self-fertilized mutant eggs. On the contrary, no wild-type eggs cross-fertilized by mutant males hatched on Li-containing plates. I am now trying to isolate other mutants and also to identify early defects of embryogenesis caused by lithium treatment. I would like to thank J. Miwa for encouragement and discussions.