Worm Breeder's Gazette 14(4): 65 (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.
Depts. of Genetics and Anesthesiology, Case Western Reserve University and University Hospitals of Cleveland, Cleveland, Ohio 44106.
Mutations in the unc-1 gene supress the altered anesthetic sensitivities of the unc-79 and unc-80 mutants. We have previously reported (WBG 14; 1 p.56.) that the cosmid C04D1 rescues the unc-1(e580) mutant. Since, the overlapping cosmid K03E6 has been sequenced , we microinjected that and found that it rescues unc-1(e580) also. So, we concentrated on the region common to the two cosmids. The smallest stably rescuing fragment (5.6 Kb) contains two genes. The plus strand encodes a protein with homology to Stomatin - a cation channel modulator found in all tissues including neurons. The minus strand encodes a protein with strong homology to Neurocalcin - a neuron specific calcium binding protein. The two genes are transcribed in opposite directions and Genefinder predicts that their ORFs partially overlap. When we probed genomic DNA from the different unc-1 alleles with subsets of the 5.6 Kb rescuing fragment, the only probe which identified differences in several unc-1 alleles is a 2.6 Kb genomic fragment containing the neurocalcin gene along with the last one and a half exons of the stomatin gene. However, another probe which has only the stomatin exons common with this probe does not detect these differences in the unc-1 alleles ; indicating that these changes probably lie outside the stomatin coding region. We have isolated cDNAs for both these genes from mixed stage C. elegans cDNA libraries ( kindly provided by Peter Okkema and Bob Barstead ). The cDNAs are currently being sequenced. Preliminary data indicate that the coding regions of the two genes do not actually overlap, as was suggested by Genefinder. In addition, we have isolated a 2.3 Kb deletion mutant fc51, which lacks the entire coding region of the neurocalcin .This mutant contains the entire coding region ( as is indicated by the cDNA ) of the stomatin gene. Sequence analysis shows that fc51 is a discontinuous deletion . A stretch of 40bp internal to the deletion breakpoints is present in this mutant. However, these 40 bp lie outside the coding region of neurocalcin. fc51 behaves like the null class of unc-1 alleles. Nothern blots with RNA from several unc-1 alleles when probed with the neurocalcin cDNA show that the neurocalcin transcript is missing in the fc51 mutant. We have also confirmed this result by RT-PCR. However, to make matters more complicated (or more interesting ), preliminary data indicate that the amount of the stomatin transcript is also substantially reduced in the fc51 mutant. So perhaps, the transcription of both the genes is co-ordinately regulated by an element that lies in the region taken out by the fc51 deletion. For both the genes, the size of the transcript is consistent with the size of the cDNA isolated for that gene. Taken together, these observations make it seem likely that the unc-1 is the neurocalcin gene. In humans, the main protein that neurocalcin interacts with is S100B, which is found in elevated levels in patients with Alzheimer's disease and Trisomy 21. In each case, the patients have an increased sensitivity to volatile anesthetics. Currently, our efforts are directed towards finding out which of these two genes represents unc-1. So, we are microinjecting a fragment containing only the neurocalcin gene into an unc-1(e580) mutant. Ultimately, it is possible that only localizing some of the mutations in unc-1 to either of these genes may be the only conclusive proof of which gene is unc-1. The sequencing is also currently underway.