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Genetics. 2016 Sep;204(1):153-62. doi: 10.1534/genetics.116.188532. Epub 2016 Jul 22.

Linking Gene Expression in the Intestine to Production of Gametes Through the Phosphate Transporter PITR-1 in Caenorhabditis elegans.

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School of Life and Health Sciences, Aston University, Birmingham, B4 7ET, United Kingdom
School of Life and Health Sciences, Aston University, Birmingham, B4 7ET, United Kingdom.
Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, Rutgers University, Piscataway, New Jersey 08854.


Inorganic phosphate is an essential mineral for both prokaryotic and eukaryotic cell metabolism and structure. Its uptake into the cell is mediated by membrane-bound transporters and coupled to Na(+) transport. Mammalian sodium-dependent Pi cotransporters have been grouped into three families NaPi-I, NaPi-II, and NaPi-III. Despite being discovered more than two decades ago, very little is known about requirements for NaPi-III transporters in vivo, in the context of intact animal models. Here we find that impaired function of the Caenorhabditis elegans NaPi-III transporter, pitr-1, results in decreased brood size and dramatically increased expression of vitellogenin by the worm intestine. Unexpectedly, we found that the effects of pitr-1 mutation on vitellogenin expression in the intestine could only be rescued by expression of pitr-1 in the germline, and not by expression of pitr-1 in the intestine itself. Our results indicate the existence of a signal from the germline that regulates gene expression in the intestine, perhaps linking nutrient export from the intestine to production of gametes by the germline.


Caenorhabditis elegans; PiT; germline signaling; phosphate sensing; sodium-dependent phosphate transporter; yolk

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