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Dev Biol. 2009 Jan 1;325(1):296-306. doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2008.10.001. Epub 2008 Oct 19.

Knockdown of SKN-1 and the Wnt effector TCF/POP-1 reveals differences in endomesoderm specification in C. briggsae as compared with C. elegans.

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Department of Biology, University of California, Riverside, Riverside, CA 92521, USA.


In the nematode, C. elegans, the bZIP/homeodomain transcription factor SKN-1 and the Wnt effector TCF/POP-1 are central to the maternal specification of the endomesoderm prior to gastrulation. The 8-cell stage blastomere MS is primarily a mesodermal precursor, giving rise to cells of the pharynx and body muscle among others, while its sister E clonally generates the entire endoderm (gut). In C. elegans, loss of SKN-1 results in the absence of MS-derived tissues all of the time, and loss of gut most of the time, while loss of POP-1 results in a mis-specification of MS as an E-like cell, resulting in ectopic gut. We show that in C. briggsae, RNAi of skn-1 results in a stronger E defect but no apparent MS defect, while RNAi of pop-1 results in loss of gut and an apparent E to MS transformation, the opposite of the pop-1 knockdown phenotype seen in C. elegans. The difference in pop-1(-) phenotypes correlates with changes in how the endogenous endoderm-specifying end genes are regulated by POP-1 in the two species. Our results suggest that integration of Wnt-dependent and Wnt-independent cell fate specification pathways within the Caenorhabditis genus can occur in different ways.

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