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Dev Biol. 2001 Jan 15;229(2):537-53.

Regulation of cell fate in Caenorhabditis elegans by a novel cytoplasmic polyadenylation element binding protein.

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Department of Biology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 48109


The fog-1 gene of Caenorhabditis elegans specifies that germ cells differentiate as sperm rather than as oocytes. We cloned fog-1 through a combination of transformation rescue experiments, RNA-mediated inactivation, and mutant analyses. Our results show that fog-1 produces two transcripts, both of which are found in germ cells but not in the soma. Furthermore, two deletion mutants alter these transcripts and are likely to eliminate fog-1 activity. The larger transcript is expressed under the control of sex-determination genes, is necessary for fog-1 activity, and is sufficient to rescue a fog-1 mutant. This transcript encodes a novel member of the CPEB family of RNA-binding proteins. Because CPEB proteins in Xenopus and Drosophila regulate gene expression at the level of translation, we propose that FOG-1 controls germ cell fates by regulating the translation of specific messenger RNAs.

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