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Dev Cell. 2015 Jul 27;34(2):206-19. doi: 10.1016/j.devcel.2015.04.023. Epub 2015 Jun 18.

A competition mechanism for a homeotic neuron identity transformation in C. elegans.

Author information

1
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, NY 10032, USA.
2
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, NY 10032, USA. Electronic address: or38@columbia.edu.

Abstract

Neuron identity transformations occur upon removal of specific regulatory factors in many different cellular contexts, thereby revealing the fundamental principle of alternative cell identity choices made during nervous system development. One common molecular interpretation of such homeotic cell identity transformations is that a regulatory factor has a dual function in activating genes defining one cellular identity and repressing genes that define an alternative identity. We provide evidence for an alternative, competition-based mechanism. We show that the MEC-3 LIM homeodomain protein can outcompete the execution of a neuropeptidergic differentiation program by direct interaction with the UNC-86/Brn3 POU homeodomain protein. MEC-3 thereby prevents UNC-86 from collaborating with the Zn finger transcription factor PAG-3/Gfi to induce peptidergic neuron identity and directs UNC-86 to induce an alternative differentiation program toward a glutamatergic neuronal identity. Homeotic control of neuronal identity programs has implications for the evolution of neuronal cell types.

PMID:
26096732
PMCID:
PMC4519388
DOI:
10.1016/j.devcel.2015.04.023
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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