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Mol Cell Biol. 2005 Dec;25(24):11059-72.

The Caenorhabditis elegans heterochronic regulator LIN-14 is a novel transcription factor that controls the developmental timing of transcription from the insulin/insulin-like growth factor gene ins-33 by direct DNA binding.

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Dartmouth Medical School, Department of Genetics, Hanover, NH 03755, USA.


A temporal gradient of the novel nuclear protein LIN-14 specifies the timing and sequence of stage-specific developmental events in Caenorhabditis elegans. The profound effects of lin-14 mutations on worm development suggest that LIN-14 directly or indirectly regulates stage-specific gene expression. We show that LIN-14 can associate with chromatin in vivo and has in vitro DNA binding activity. A bacterially expressed C-terminal domain of LIN-14 was used to select DNA sequences that contain a putative consensus binding site from a pool of randomized double-stranded oligonucleotides. To identify candidates for genes directly regulated by lin-14, we employed DNA microarray hybridization to compare the mRNA abundance of C. elegans genes in wild-type animals to that in mutants with reduced or elevated lin-14 activity. Five of the candidate LIN-14 target genes identified by microarrays, including the insulin/insulin-like growth factor family gene ins-33, contain putative LIN-14 consensus sites in their upstream DNA sequences. Genetic analysis indicates that the developmental regulation of ins-33 mRNA involves the stage-specific repression of ins-33 transcription by LIN-14 via sequence-specific DNA binding. These results reinforce the conclusion that lin-14 encodes a novel class of transcription factor.

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