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Dev Biol. 2012 Feb 1;362(1):42-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2011.11.009. Epub 2011 Nov 23.

Some, but not all, retromer components promote morphogenesis of C. elegans sensory compartments.

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Laboratory of Developmental Genetics, The Rockefeller University, New York, NY 10065, USA.


The endings of sensory receptor cells often lie within specialized compartments formed by glial cells. The main sensory organ of Caenorhabditis elegans, the amphid, provides a powerful setting for studying glial compartment morphogenesis. Our previous studies showed that amphid compartment size is controlled by opposing activities of the Nemo-like kinase LIT-1, which promotes compartment expansion, and the Patched-related protein DAF-6, which restricts compartment growth. From a genetic screen for mutations able to suppress the bloated sensory compartments of daf-6 mutants, we identified an allele of the sorting nexin gene snx-1. SNX-1 protein is a component of the retromer, a protein complex that facilitates recycling of transmembrane proteins from the endosome to the Golgi network. We find that snx-1 functions cell autonomously within glia to promote sensory compartment growth, and that SNX-1 protein is enriched near the surface of the sensory compartment. snx-1 interacts genetically with lit-1 and another regulator of compartment size, the Dispatched-related gene che-14. Mutations in snx-3 and vps-29, also retromer genes, can suppress daf-6 defects. Surprisingly, however, remaining retromer components seem not to be involved. Our results suggest that a novel assembly of retromer components is important for determining sensory compartment dimensions.

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