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Dev Cell. 2002 Mar;2(3):355-62.

The type I membrane protein EFF-1 is essential for developmental cell fusion.

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Department of Genetics and Developmental Biology, University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington, CT 06030, USA.


Multinucleate cells are widespread in nature, yet the mechanism by which cells fuse their plasma membranes is poorly understood. To identify animal fusogens, we performed new screens for mutations that abolish cell fusion within tissues of C. elegans throughout development. We identified the gene eff-1, which is expressed as cells acquire fusion competence and encodes a novel integral membrane protein. EFF-1 sequence motifs suggest physicochemical actions that could cause adjacent bilayers to fuse. Mutations in the extracellular domain of EFF-1 completely block epithelial cell membrane fusion without affecting other perfusion events such as cell generation, patterning, differentiation, and adhesion. Thus, EFF-1 is a key component in the mechanism of cell fusion, a process essential to normal animal development.

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