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Dev Biol. 2008 Jun 1;318(1):65-72. doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2008.02.054. Epub 2008 Mar 13.

Control of cell cycle timing during C. elegans embryogenesis.

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Department of Genome Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA.


As a fundamental process of development, cell proliferation must be coordinated with other processes such as fate differentiation. Through statistical analysis of individual cell cycle lengths of the first 8 out of 10 rounds of embryonic cell division in Caenorhabditis elegans, we identified synchronous and invariantly ordered divisions that are tightly associated with fate differentiation. Our results suggest a three-tier model for fate control of cell cycle pace: the primary control of cell cycle pace is established by lineage and the founder cell fate, then fine-tuned by tissue and organ differentiation within each lineage, then further modified by individualization of cells as they acquire unique morphological and physiological roles in the variant body plan. We then set out to identify the pace-setting mechanisms in different fates. Our results suggest that ubiquitin-mediated degradation of CDC-25.1 is a rate-determining step for the E (gut) and P(3) (muscle and germline) lineages but not others, even though CDC-25.1 and its apparent decay have been detected in all lineages. Our results demonstrate the power of C. elegans embryogenesis as a model to dissect the interaction between differentiation and proliferation, and an effective approach combining genetic and statistical analysis at single-cell resolution.

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