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PLoS One. 2008 Oct 3;3(10):e3346. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0003346.

The cell signaling adaptor protein EPS-8 is essential for C. elegans epidermal elongation and interacts with the ankyrin repeat protein VAB-19.

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Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, University of California Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, California, USA.



The epidermal cells of the C. elegans embryo undergo coordinated cell shape changes that result in the morphogenetic process of elongation. The cytoskeletal ankyrin repeat protein VAB-19 is required for cell shape changes and localizes to cell-matrix attachment structures. The molecular functions of VAB-19 in this process are obscure, as no previous interactors for VAB-19 have been described.


In screens for VAB-19 binding proteins we identified the signaling adaptor EPS-8. Within C. elegans epidermal cells, EPS-8 and VAB-19 colocalize at cell-matrix attachment structures. The central domain of EPS-8 is necessary and sufficient for its interaction with VAB-19. eps-8 null mutants, like vab-19 mutants, are defective in epidermal elongation and in epidermal-muscle attachment. The eps-8 locus encodes two isoforms, EPS-8A and EPS-8B, that appear to act redundantly in epidermal elongation. The function of EPS-8 in epidermal development involves its N-terminal PTB and central domains, and is independent of its C-terminal SH3 and actin-binding domains. VAB-19 appears to act earlier in the biogenesis of attachment structures and may recruit EPS-8 to these structures.


EPS-8 and VAB-19 define a novel pathway acting at cell-matrix attachments to regulate epithelial cell shape. This is the first report of a role for EPS-8 proteins in cell-matrix attachments. The existence of EPS-8B-like isoforms in Drosophila suggests this function of EPS-8 proteins could be conserved among other organisms.

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