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Genetics. 1999 Nov;153(3):1257-69.

Structural requirements for the tissue-specific and tissue-general functions of the Caenorhabditis elegans epidermal growth factor LIN-3.

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  • 1Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Division of Biology, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California 91125, USA.


Caenorhabditis elegans lin-3 encodes a homolog of the epidermal growth factor (EGF) family of growth factors. LIN-3 is the inductive signal for hermaphrodite vulval differentiation, and it is required for animal viability, hermaphrodite fertility, and the specification of anterior cell fates in the male B cell lineage. We describe the cloning of a lin-3 homolog from C. briggsae, sequence comparison of C. elegans lin-3 with C. briggsae lin-3, and the determination of molecular lesions in alleles of C. elegans lin-3, including three new alleles. We also analyzed the severity of phenotypes caused by the new and existing alleles of lin-3. Correlation of mutant phenotypes and their molecular lesions, as well as sequence comparison between two species, reveal that the EGF motif and the N-terminal portion of the cytoplasmic domain are important for the functions of LIN-3 in all tissues, while the C-terminal portion of the cytoplasmic domain is involved in the tissue-specific functions of lin-3. We discuss how the structure of lin-3 contributes to its functions in multiple developmental processes.

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