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J Cell Sci. 2000 Nov;113 Pt 21:3825-37.

The C. elegans septin genes, unc-59 and unc-61, are required for normal postembryonic cytokineses and morphogenesis but have no essential function in embryogenesis.

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  • 1Cellular Molecular Biology Program, Laboratory of Molecular Biology, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53706 USA.


Septins have been shown to play important roles in cytokinesis in diverse organisms ranging from yeast to mammals. In this study, we show that both the unc-59 and unc-61 loci encode Caenorhabditis elegans septins. Genomic database searches indicate that unc-59 and unc-61 are probably the only septin genes in the C. elegans genome. UNC-59 and UNC-61 localize to the leading edge of cleavage furrows and eventually reside at the midbody. Analysis of unc-59 and unc-61 mutants revealed that each septin requires the presence of the other for localization to the cytokinetic furrow. Surprisingly, unc-59 and unc-61 mutants generally have normal embryonic development; however, defects were observed in post-embryonic development affecting the morphogenesis of the vulva, male tail, gonad, and sensory neurons. These defects can be at least partially attributed to failures in post-embryonic cytokineses although our data also suggest other possible roles for septins. unc-59 and unc-61 double mutants show similar defects to each of the single mutants.

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