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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 Mar 11;105(10):3790-5. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0712159105. Epub 2008 Feb 28.

A Caenorhabditis elegans model for epithelial-neuronal transdifferentiation.

Author information

1
Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale U596, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique Unité Mixte de Recherche, Illkirch, France. sophie@igbmc.u-strasbg.fr

Abstract

Understanding transdifferentiation-the conversion of one differentiated cell type into another-is important from both basic science and clinical perspectives. In Caenorhabditis elegans, an epithelial cell named Y is initially part of the rectum but later appears to withdraw, migrate, and then become a motor neuron named PDA. Here, we show that this represents a bona fide transdifferentiation event: Y has epithelial hallmarks without detectable neural characteristics, and PDA has no residual epithelial characteristics. Using available mutants and laser microsurgery, we found that transdifferentiation does not depend on fusion with a neighboring cell or require migration of Y away from the rectum, that other rectal epithelial cells are not competent to transdifferentiate, and that transdifferentiation requires the EGL-5 and SEM-4 transcription factors and LIN-12/Notch signaling. Our results establish Y-to-PDA transdifferentiation as a genetically tractable model for deciphering the mechanisms underlying cellular plasticity in vivo.

PMID:
18308937
PMCID:
PMC2268801
DOI:
10.1073/pnas.0712159105
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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