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Development. 2002 Jul;129(14):3367-79.

unc-53 controls longitudinal migration in C. elegans.

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Department of Biochemistry, Ghent University - Flanders Interuniversity Institute for Biotechnology (VIB09), Gent 9000, Belgium.


Cell migration and outgrowth are thought to be based on analogous mechanisms that require repeated cycles of process extension, reading and integration of multiple directional signals, followed by stabilisation in a preferred direction, and renewed extension. We have characterised a C. elegans gene, unc-53, that appears to act cell autonomously in the migration and outgrowth of muscles, axons and excretory canals. Abrogation of unc-53 function disrupts anteroposterior outgrowth in those cells that normally express the gene. Conversely, overexpression of unc-53 in bodywall muscles leads to exaggerated outgrowth. UNC-53 is a novel protein conserved in vertebrates that contains putative SH3- and actin-binding sites. unc-53 interacts genetically with sem-5 and we demonstrated a direct interaction in vitro between UNC-53 and the SH2-SH3 adaptor protein SEM-5/GRB2. Thus, unc-53 is involved in longitudinal navigation and might act by linking extracellular guidance cues to the intracellular cytoskeleton.

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