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Dev Biol. 2003 May 1;257(1):104-16.

Cis regulatory requirements for vulval cell-specific expression of the Caenorhabditis elegans fibroblast growth factor gene egl-17.

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  • 1Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, University of Colorado, 80309-0347, Boulder, CO, USA


The Caenorhabditis elegans EGL-17/FGF protein is involved in the gonadal signaling that guides the migrations of sex myoblasts (SMs). egl-17::GFP reporter constructs are expressed dynamically in vulval cell lineages. Expression in the primary vulval cells is correlated with the precise positioning of SMs. We have investigated the cis-regulatory requirements for cell- and stage-specific expression of egl-17. Three enhancer elements that specify the expression of the egl-17::GFP reporter gene in primary or secondary vulval cells at certain stages were identified. Sequence analysis has suggested a number of potential transcription factor binding sites within the enhancer elements. egl-17 is most likely a direct target of the LIN-39 Hox protein because mutations either in the lin-39/hox gene or at the consensus HOX/PBC binding site within the distal enhancer of the egl-17 gene eliminated distal enhancer-activated egl-17 expression. Since expression of egl-17::GFP driven by the distal enhancer can no longer be turned off at late stages in lin-1 and lin-31 mutants, egl-17 may also be regulated by Ras signaling through repression of LIN-1 and LIN-31 activities. Interspecies transformation experiments showed that egl-17 cis-regulatory elements are structurally and functionally conserved between C. elegans and C. briggsae.

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