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Development. 2004 Apr;131(8):1777-86. Epub 2004 Mar 17.

Intercellular signaling of reproductive development by the C. elegans DAF-9 cytochrome P450.

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Department of Molecular Biology, Massachusetts General Hospital and Department of Genetics, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02114, USA.


Parallel pathways control C. elegans reproductive development in response to environmental cues. Attenuation of daf-2 insulin-like or daf-7 TGFbeta-like signaling pathways cause developmental arrest at the stress resistant and long-lived dauer stage. Loss-of-function mutations in the cytochrome P450 gene daf-9 also cause dauer arrest and defects in cell migration. A rescuing daf-9::GFP fusion gene driven by the daf-9 promoter is expressed in two head cells at all stages, in the hypodermis from mid-second larval stage (L2) to the fourth larval stage (L4), and in the spermatheca of the adult hermaphrodite. Although the level of daf-9::GFP expression in the head cells and spermatheca is constant, hypodermal daf-9::GFP expression is modulated by multiple inputs. In particular, daf-9::GFP expression in the hypodermis is absolutely dependent on daf-12, the nuclear receptor that is negatively regulated by daf-9 gene activity, suggesting feedback control between daf-9 and daf-12 in this tissue. daf-9 expression exclusively in the hypodermis is sufficient to restore reproductive development in daf-9 mutant animals, suggesting that daf-9 functions in a cell nonautonomous manner. Furthermore, constitutive expression of daf-9 in the hypodermis suppresses dauer arrest of daf-7 mutant animals and inhibits dauer remodelling of some tissues in daf-2 mutant animals. Thus, daf-9 may integrate outputs from daf-2 and daf-7 signaling pathways to relay neuroendocrine signals through synthesis of a lipophilic hormone.

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