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Genetics. 2011 Jul;188(3):753-9. doi: 10.1534/genetics.111.129064. Epub 2011 May 9.

A left/right asymmetric neuronal differentiation program is controlled by the Caenorhabditis elegans lsy-27 zinc-finger transcription factor.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, New York 10032, USA.


Functional diversification across the left/right axis is a common feature of many nervous systems. The genetic programs that control left/right asymmetric neuron function and gene expression in the nervous system are, however, poorly understood. We describe here the molecular characterization of two phenotypically similar mutant Caenorhabditis elegans strains in which left/right asymmetric gene expression programs of two gustatory neurons, called ASEL and ASER, are disrupted such that the differentiation program of the ASER neuron is derepressed in the ASEL neuron. We show that in one mutant strain the LIM homeobox gene lim-6 is defective whereas in another strain a novel member of a nematode-specific, fast-evolving family of C2H2 zinc-finger transcription factors, lsy-27, is mutated, as revealed by whole-genome sequencing. lsy-27 is broadly and exclusively expressed in the embryo and acts during the initiation, but not during the maintenance phase of ASE asymmetry control to assist in the initiation of lim-6 expression.

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