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Dev Biol. 2003 Jul 15;259(2):336-50.

The establishment of Caenorhabditis elegans germline pattern is controlled by overlapping proximal and distal somatic gonad signals.

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Department of Biology, New York University, New York, NY 10003, USA.


We investigated the control of proliferation and differentiation in the larval Caenorhabditis elegans hermaphrodite germ line through analysis of glp-1 and lag-2 mutants, cell ablations, and ultrastructural data. After the first several rounds of germ cell division, GLP-1, a receptor of the LIN-12/Notch family, governs germline proliferation. We analyzed the proximal proliferation (Pro) phenotype in glp-1(ar202) and found that initial meiosis was delayed and spatially mispositioned. This is due, at least in part, to a heightened response of the mutant GLP-1 receptor to multiple sources of the somatic ligand LAG-2, including the proximal somatic gonad. We investigated whether proximal LAG-2 affects germline proliferation in the wild type. Our results indicate that (1) LAG-2 is necessary for GLP-1-mediated germline proliferation and prevention of early meiosis, and (2) several distinct anatomical sources of LAG-2 in the larval somatic gonad functionally overlap to promote proliferation and prevent early meiosis. Ultrastructural studies suggest that mitosis is not restricted to areas of direct DTC-germ line contact and that the germ line shares a common cytoplasm in larval stages. We propose that downregulation of the GLP-1 signaling pathway in the proximal germ line at the time of meiotic onset is under tight temporal and spatial control.

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