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Dev Cell. 2009 May;16(5):699-710. doi: 10.1016/j.devcel.2009.03.008.

The polycomb complex protein mes-2/E(z) promotes the transition from developmental plasticity to differentiation in C. elegans embryos.

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1
Huntsman Cancer Institute, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT 84112, USA.

Abstract

We have used expression profiling and in vivo imaging to characterize Caenorhabditis elegans embryos as they transit from a developmentally plastic state to the onset of differentiation. Normally, this transition is accompanied by activation of developmental regulators and differentiation genes, downregulation of early-expressed genes, and large-scale reorganization of chromatin. We find that loss of plasticity and differentiation onset depends on the Polycomb complex protein mes-2/E(Z). mes-2 mutants display prolonged developmental plasticity in response to heterologous developmental regulators. Early-expressed genes remain active, differentiation genes fail to reach wild-type levels, and chromatin retains a decompacted morphology in mes-2 mutants. By contrast, loss of the developmental regulators pha-4/FoxA or end-1/GATA does not prolong plasticity. This study establishes a model by which to analyze developmental plasticity within an intact embryo. mes-2 orchestrates large-scale changes in chromatin organization and gene expression to promote the timely loss of developmental plasticity. Our findings indicate that loss of plasticity can be uncoupled from cell fate specification.

PMID:
19460346
PMCID:
PMC2693235
DOI:
10.1016/j.devcel.2009.03.008
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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