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EMBO J. 2008 Apr 9;27(7):1085-96. doi: 10.1038/emboj.2008.32. Epub 2008 Feb 28.

Spindle assembly checkpoint gene mdf-1 regulates germ cell proliferation in response to nutrition signals in C. elegans.

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Department of Molecular Pharmacology, St Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, TN 38105, USA.


When newly hatched Caenorhabditis elegans larvae are starved, their primordial germ cells (PGCs) arrest in the post-S phase. This starvation-induced PGC arrest is mediated by the DAF-18/PTEN-AKT-1/PKB nutrient-sensing pathway. Here, we report that the conserved spindle assembly checkpoint (SAC) component MDF-1/MAD1 is required for the PGC arrest. We identified 2 Akt kinase phosphorylation sites on MDF-1. Expression of a non-phosphorylatable mutant MDF-1 partially suppressed the defect in the starvation-induced PGC arrest in L1 larvae lacking DAF-18, suggesting that MDF-1 regulates germ cell proliferation as a downstream target of AKT-1, thereby demonstrating a functional link between cell-cycle regulation by the SAC components and nutrient sensing by DAF-18-AKT-1 during post-embryonic development. The phosphorylation status of MDF-1 affects its binding to another SAC component, MDF-2/MAD2. The loss of MDF-2 or another SAC component also caused inappropriate germ cell proliferation, but the defect was less severe than that caused by mdf-1 hemizygosity, suggesting that MDF-1 causes the PGC arrest by two mechanisms, one involving MDF-2 and another that is independent of other SAC components.

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