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PLoS One. 2014 Dec 10;9(12):e114998. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0114998. eCollection 2014.

The C. elegans TPR Containing Protein, TRD-1, Regulates Cell Fate Choice in the Developing Germ Line and Epidermis.

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Department of Biochemistry, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom.


Correct cell fate choice is crucial in development. In post-embryonic development of the hermaphroditic Caenorhabitis elegans, distinct cell fates must be adopted in two diverse tissues. In the germline, stem cells adopt one of three possible fates: mitotic cell cycle, or gamete formation via meiosis, producing either sperm or oocytes. In the epidermis, the stem cell-like seam cells divide asymmetrically, with the daughters taking on either a proliferative (seam) or differentiated (hypodermal or neuronal) fate. We have isolated a novel conserved C. elegans tetratricopeptide repeat containing protein, TRD-1, which is essential for cell fate determination in both the germline and the developing epidermis and has homologs in other species, including humans (TTC27). We show that trd-1(RNAi) and mutant animals have fewer seam cells as a result of inappropriate differentiation towards the hypodermal fate. In the germline, trd-1 RNAi results in a strong masculinization phenotype, as well as defects in the mitosis to meiosis switch. Our data suggests that trd-1 acts downstream of tra-2 but upstream of fem-3 in the germline sex determination pathway, and exhibits a constellation of phenotypes in common with other Mog (masculinization of germline) mutants. Thus, trd-1 is a new player in both the somatic and germline cell fate determination machinery, suggestive of a novel molecular connection between the development of these two diverse tissues.

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