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Nat Commun. 2016 Aug 4;7:12337. doi: 10.1038/ncomms12337.

Chromatin remodelling and antisense-mediated up-regulation of the developmental switch gene eud-1 control predatory feeding plasticity.

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Department for Evolutionary Biology, Max-Planck-Institute for Developmental Biology, Spemannstrasse 35, 72076 Tübingen, Germany.


Phenotypic plasticity has been suggested to act through developmental switches, but little is known about associated molecular mechanisms. In the nematode Pristionchus pacificus, the sulfatase eud-1 was identified as part of a developmental switch controlling mouth-form plasticity governing a predatory versus bacteriovorous mouth-form decision. Here we show that mutations in the conserved histone-acetyltransferase Ppa-lsy-12 and the methyl-binding-protein Ppa-mbd-2 mimic the eud-1 phenotype, resulting in the absence of one mouth-form. Mutations in both genes cause histone modification defects and reduced eud-1 expression. Surprisingly, Ppa-lsy-12 mutants also result in the down-regulation of an antisense-eud-1 RNA. eud-1 and antisense-eud-1 are co-expressed and further experiments suggest that antisense-eud-1 acts through eud-1 itself. Indeed, overexpression of the antisense-eud-1 RNA increases the eud-1-sensitive mouth-form and extends eud-1 expression. In contrast, this effect is absent in eud-1 mutants indicating that antisense-eud-1 positively regulates eud-1. Thus, chromatin remodelling and antisense-mediated up-regulation of eud-1 control feeding plasticity in Pristionchus.

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