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Dev Biol. 2005 Nov 1;287(1):35-47. Epub 2005 Sep 28.

The C. elegans lethal gut-obstructed gob-1 gene is trehalose-6-phosphate phosphatase.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Genes and Development Research Group, University of Calgary Faculty of Medicine, Health Sciences Centre, Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2N 4N1.


We identified the gob-1 (gut-obstructed) gene in a forward genetic screen for intestinal defects in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. gob-1 loss of function results in early larval lethality, at least in part because of a blocked intestinal lumen and consequent starvation. The gob-1 gene is first expressed in the 8E cell stage of the embryonic intestine, and the GATA factor ELT-2 is sufficient but not necessary for this early phase of gob-1 expression; gob-1 expression later becomes widespread in embryos, larvae, and adults. GOB-1 is a member of the HAD-like hydrolase superfamily and shows a robust and specific phosphatase activity for the substrate trehalose-6-phosphate. Trehalose is a glucose disaccharide found in bacteria, fungi, plants, insects, and nematodes but not in mammals. Trehalose plays a number of critical roles such as providing flexible energy reserves and contributing to thermal and osmotic stress resistance. In budding yeast and in plants, the intermediate in trehalose synthesis, trehalose-6-phosphate, has additional critical but less well-defined roles in controlling glycolysis and carbohydrate metabolism. Strong loss-of-function mutants in the C. elegans tps-1 and tps-2 genes (which encode the two trehalose phosphate synthases responsible for trehalose-6-phosphate synthesis) completely suppress the lethality associated with gob-1 loss of function. The suppression of gob-1 lethality by ablation of TPS-1 and TPS-2, the upstream enzymes in the trehalose synthesis pathway, suggests that gob-1 lethality results from a toxic build-up of the intermediate trehalose-6-phosphate, not from an absence of trehalose. GOB-1 is the first trehalose-6-phosphate phosphatase to be identified in nematodes and, because of its associated lethality and distinctive sequence properties, provides a new and attractive target for anti-parasitic drugs.

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