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Development. 1999 Apr;126(7):1537-46.

Anterior organization of the Caenorhabditis elegans embryo by the labial-like Hox gene ceh-13.

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  • 1Institute of Zoology, University of Fribourg, Pérolles, CH-1700 Fribourg, Switzerland.


The Caenorhabditis elegans lin-39, mab-5 and egl-5 Hox genes specify cell fates along the anterior-posterior body axis of the nematode during postembryonic development, but little is known about Hox gene functions during embryogenesis. Here, we show that the C. elegans labial-like gene ceh-13 is expressed in cells of many different tissues and lineages and that the rostral boundary of its expression domain is anterior to those of the other Hox genes. By transposon-mediated mutagenesis, we isolated a zygotic recessive ceh-13 loss-of-function allele, sw1, that exhibits an embryonic sublethal phenotype. Lineage analyses and immunostainings revealed defects in the organization of the anterior lateral epidermis and anterior body wall muscle cells. The epidermal and mesodermal identity of these cells, however, is correctly specified. ceh-13(sw1) mutant embryos also show fusion and adhesion defects in ectodermal cells. This suggests that ceh-13 plays a role in the anterior organization of the C. elegans embryo and is involved in the regulation of cell affinities.

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