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Dev Cell. 2007 May;12(5):683-98.

AFF-1, a FOS-1-regulated fusogen, mediates fusion of the anchor cell in C. elegans.

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  • 1Department of Biology, Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa 32000, Israel.

Abstract

Cell fusion is fundamental for reproduction and organ formation. Fusion between most C. elegans epithelial cells is mediated by the EFF-1 fusogen. However, fusion between the anchor cell and the utse syncytium that establishes a continuous uterine-vulval tube proceeds normally in eff-1 mutants. By isolating mutants where the anchor-cell fails to fuse, we identified aff-1. AFF-1 ectopic expression results in fusion of cells that normally do not fuse in C. elegans. The fusogen activity of AFF-1 was further confirmed by its ability to fuse heterologous cells. AFF-1 and EFF-1 differ in their fusogenic activity and expression patterns but share eight conserved predicted disulfide bonds in their ectodomains, including a putative TGF-beta-type-I-Receptor domain. We found that FOS-1, the Fos transcription factor ortholog that controls anchor-cell invasion during nematode development, is a specific activator of aff-1-mediated anchor-cell fusion. Thus, FOS-1 links cell invasion and fusion in a developmental cascade.

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