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BMC Dev Biol. 2009 Dec 31;9:74. doi: 10.1186/1471-213X-9-74.

The roles of EGF and Wnt signaling during patterning of the C. elegans Bgamma/delta Equivalence Group.

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California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, 91125, USA.



During development, different signaling pathways interact to specify cell fate by regulating transcription factors necessary for fate specification and morphogenesis. In Caenorhabditis elegans, the EGF-Ras and Wnt signaling pathways have been shown to interact to specify cell fate in three equivalence groups: the vulval precursor cells (VPCs), the hook competence group (HCG) and P11/12. In the VPCs, HCG and P11/12 pair, EGF and Wnt signaling positively regulate different Hox genes, each of which also functions during fate specification. In the male, EGF-Ras signaling is required to specify the Bgamma fate within the Bgamma/delta equivalence pair, while Notch signaling is required for Bdelta fate specification. In addition, TGF-beta signaling by dbl-1/dpp controls ceh-13/labial/Hox1 expression in Bgamma.


We show that EGF-Ras signaling is required for Bgamma expression of ceh-13/labial/Hox1. The transcription factors lin-1/ETS and lin-31/Forkhead, functioning downstream of the EGF pathway, as well as sur-2/MED23 (a component of the Mediator complex) also control ceh-13 expression in Bgamma. In addition, our results indicate that lin-44/Wnt, mom-2/Wnt and lin-17/Fz are necessary to maintain the division of Bgamma along a longitudinal axis. We also show that dbl-1/dpp acts either in parallel or downstream of EGF pathway to regulate ceh-13/Hox1 expression in Bgamma. Lastly, we find that a dbl-1/dpp null mutation did not cause any vulval or P12 defects and did not enhance vulval and P12 defects of reduction-of-function mutations of components of the EGF pathway.


ceh-13/labial/Hox1 expression in Bgamma is regulated by the EGF pathway and downstream factors lin-1/ETS lin-31/Forkhead and sur-2/MED23. Wnt signaling is required for proper Bgamma division, perhaps to orient the Bgamma mitotic spindle. Our results suggest that dbl-1/dpp is not required for VPC and P12 specification, highlighting another difference among these EGF-dependent equivalence groups.

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