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Development. 2001 Oct;128(20):4045-55.

The C. elegans maternal-effect gene clk-2 is essential for embryonic development, encodes a protein homologous to yeast Tel2p and affects telomere length.

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Department of Biology, McGill University, 1205 Avenue Dr Penfield, H3A 1B1, Montréal, Québec, Canada.


The Caenorhabditis elegans maternal-effect clk genes are involved in the temporal control of development and behavior. We report the genetic and molecular characterization of clk-2. A temperature-sensitive mutation in the gene clk-2 affects embryonic and post-embryonic development, reproduction, and rhythmic behaviors. Yet, virtually all phenotypes are fully maternally rescued. Embryonic development strictly requires the activity of maternal clk-2 during a narrow time window between oocyte maturation and the two- to four-cell embryonic stage. Positional cloning of clk-2 reveals that it encodes a protein homologous to S. cerevisiae Tel2p. In yeast, the gene TEL2 regulates telomere length and participates in gene silencing at subtelomeric regions. In C. elegans, clk-2 mutants have elongated telomeres, and clk-2 overexpression can lead to telomere shortening. Tel2p has been reported to bind to telomeric DNA repeats in vitro. However, we find that a functional CLK-2::GFP fusion protein is cytoplasmic in worms. We discuss how the phenotype of clk-2 mutants could be the result of altered patterns of gene expression.

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