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Dev Biol. 2006 Oct 1;298(1):176-87. Epub 2006 Jun 28.

Unique and redundant functions of C. elegans HP1 proteins in post-embryonic development.

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Laboratoire de Biologie Moleculaire de la Cellule, Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon, CNRS UMR5161, IFR128, Lyon, France.


HP1 proteins are essential components of heterochromatin and contribute to the transcriptional repression of euchromatic genes. Although most species contain more than one HP1 family member which differ in their chromosomal distribution, it is not known to what extent the activity of these different family members is redundant or specific in a developmental context. C. elegans has two HP1 homologues, HPL-1 and HPL-2. While HPL-2 functions in vulval and germline development, no function has so far been attributed to HPL-1. Here we report the characterization of an hpl-1 null allele. We show that while the absence of hpl-1 alone results in no obvious phenotype, hpl-1;hpl-2 double mutants show synthetic, temperature sensitive phenotypes including larval lethality and severe defects in the development of the somatic gonad. Furthermore, we find that hpl-1 has an unexpected role in vulval development by acting redundantly with hpl-2, but not other genes previously implicated in vulval development. Localization studies show that like HPL-2, HPL-1 is a ubiquitously expressed nuclear protein. However, HPL-1 and HPL-2 localization does not completely overlap. Our results show that HPL-1 and HPL-2 play both unique and redundant functions in post-embryonic development.

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