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J Cell Sci. 2010 Aug 15;123(Pt 16):2717-24. doi: 10.1242/jcs.066761. Epub 2010 Jul 27.

LARP-1 promotes oogenesis by repressing fem-3 in the C. elegans germline.

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ETH Zurich, Institute of Biochemistry, Zurich, Switzerland.


LA-related protein 1 (LARP-1) belongs to an RNA-binding protein family containing a LA motif. Here, we identify LARP-1 as a regulator of sex determination. In C. elegans hermaphrodites, a complex regulatory network regulates the switch from sperm to oocyte production. We find that simultaneous depletion of larp-1 and the Nanos homologue nos-3 results in germline masculinization. This phenotype is accompanied by a strong reduction of the levels of TRA-1, a GLI-family transcription factor that promotes oogenesis. TRA-1 levels are regulated by CBC(FEM-1), a ubiquitin ligase consisting of the FEM proteins, FEM-1, FEM-2 and FEM-3 and the cullin CUL-2. We show that both the masculinization phenotype and the reduction of TRA-1 levels observed in nos-3;larp-1 mutants require fem-3 activity, suggesting that nos-3 and larp-1 regulate the sperm-oocyte switch by inhibiting the fem genes. Consistently, fem-3 mRNA levels are increased in larp-1 mutants. By contrast, levels of fem-3 mRNA are not affected in nos-3 mutants. Therefore, our data indicate that LARP-1 and NOS-3 promote oogenesis by regulating fem-3 expression through distinct mechanisms.

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