Worm Breeder's Gazette 15(2): 28 (February 1, 1998)
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.
Dept.of MCD Biology, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309-0347
Previously, we reported using representational difference analysis (RDA) to identify candidate nob-1 genomic and cDNA clones (1). nob-1 resided in one of the remaining gaps in the physical map on LGIIIR and therefore, was not clonable by conventional means. Sequence analysis of the 5' tag of each of two candidate cDNA clones revealed no significant matches to any sequences in either the C. elegans genomic databases or in Genbank. However, sequence analysis of the 3' end of these clones revealed that these cDNAs can encode a homeodomain-containing protein most similar to those of the posterior paralog group containing Abd-B and the vertebrate Hox 9-13 genes. Alignment of these sequences (see Figure) is shown opposite and includes the ten best matches as well as Abd-B and egl-5, another C. elegans gene with similarity to the posterior paralog group. Like other members of this group, the predicted nob-1 protein lacks an N-terminal hexapeptide found in more anteriorly-expressed Hox genes and contains three residues highly conserved amongst members of this group (2) at positions 3, 7, and 10 (shown with asterisks). RNA blot analysis with one of these cDNAs demonstrates that a major transcript of 1.2 kb is detected at all stages of development, consistent with nob-1's role in embryonic and post-embryonic development (3,4). Less abundant transcripts of 2.3 kb and 700 bp are also detected and may be developmentally regulated. Phenotypic analyses on embryos homozygous for the severe loss-of-function allele, ct223, suggested that while nob-1 is not required for proper execution of posterior cell lineages, it is needed late in embryogenesis to properly specify fates of posterior gut, neurons, and hypodermis (3,4). Identification of candidate nob-1 cDNAs with similarity to posteriorly-expressed Hox genes is consistent with this interpretation. We are intrigued by the similar phenotypes produced by severe loss-of-function mutations in ceh-13, a C. elegans labial homolog (5), and nob-1. While mutations in each of these genes result in morphological defects in the anterior and posterior, respectively, neither of the mutations appears to have any effect on the embryonic lineage. This suggests that in C. elegans, the two Hox genes essential for embryogenesis are not required for specifying the lineage, but instead for proper execution of region-specific differentiation. Our next experiments are directed towards characterizing the molecular lesions in each of three nob-1 alleles and determining its expression pattern. In addition, we are analyzing YACs in this region to determine if nob-1 is an orphan Hox gene, or if there is another sister Hox cluster on the right arm of LGIII. 1. Weaver, D. C., Van Auken, K., and B. Wood. (1997). Worm Breeder's Gazette. 15 (1). p.29 2. Gehring, W. J., Affolter, M., and Burglin, T. (1994). Homeodomain Proteins, in Annu. Rev. Biochem., 63:487-526. 3. Van Auken, K., Edgar, L., and B. Wood. (1996). West Coast Worm Meeting Abstract, p.19. 4. Van Auken, K., Edgar, L., and B. Wood. (1997). International C. elegans Meeting Abstracts, p.198. 5. Brunschwig, K., Wittmann, C., Schnabel, R., Tobler, H., and Muller, F. (1997). Worm Breeder's Gazette. 15 (1). p.47.