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Genetics. 2011 Aug;188(4):897-905. doi: 10.1534/genetics.111.128421. Epub 2011 May 19.

Hox and a newly identified E2F co-repress cell death in Caenorhabditis elegans.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Biology, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas 75235-9148, USA.


The development of an organism depends on individual cells receiving and executing their specific fates, although how this process is regulated remains largely unknown. Here, we identify a mechanism by which a specific cell fate, apoptosis, is determined through the cooperative efforts of Hox and E2F proteins. E2F transcription factors are critical, conserved regulators of the cell cycle and apoptosis. However, little is known about the two most recently discovered mammalian E2Fs-E2F7 and E2F8. In the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, we identify a novel E2F7/8 homolog, EFL-3, and show that EFL-3 functions cooperatively with LIN-39, providing the first example in which these two major developmental pathways-E2F and Hox-are able to directly regulate the same target gene. Our studies demonstrate that LIN-39 and EFL-3 function in a cell type-specific context to regulate transcription of the egl-1 BH3-only cell death gene and to determine cell fate during development.

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