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PLoS Genet. 2008 Apr 25;4(4):e1000059. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1000059.

Coordinated regulation of intestinal functions in C. elegans by LIN-35/Rb and SLR-2.

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Department of Molecular Biology, College of Agriculture, University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyoming, United States of America.


LIN-35 is the sole C. elegans representative of the pocket protein family, which includes the mammalian Retinoblastoma protein pRb and its paralogs p107 and p130. In addition to having a well-established and central role in cell cycle regulation, pocket proteins have been increasingly implicated in the control of critical and diverse developmental and cellular processes. To gain a greater understanding of the roles of pocket proteins during development, we have characterized a synthetic genetic interaction between lin-35 and slr-2, which we show encodes a C2H2-type Zn-finger protein. Whereas animals harboring single mutations in lin-35 or slr-2 are viable and fertile, lin-35; slr-2 double mutants arrest uniformly in early larval development without obvious morphological defects. Using a combination of approaches including transcriptome profiling, mosaic analysis, starvation assays, and expression analysis, we demonstrate that both LIN-35 and SLR-2 act in the intestine to regulate the expression of many genes required for normal nutrient utilization. These findings represent a novel role for pRb family members in the maintenance of organ function. Our studies also shed light on the mechanistic basis of genetic redundancy among transcriptional regulators and suggest that synthetic interactions may result from the synergistic misregulation of one or more common targets.

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