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Cell. 1995 Nov 17;83(4):599-609.

pop-1 encodes an HMG box protein required for the specification of a mesoderm precursor in early C. elegans embryos.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Division of Basic Sciences, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, Washington 98109, USA.


In C. elegans embryogenesis, the MS blastomere produces predominantly mesodermal cell types, while its sister E generates only endodermal tissue. We show that a maternal gene, pop-1, is essential for the specification of MS fate and that a mutation in pop-1 results in MS adopting an E fate. Previous studies have shown that the maternal gene skn-1 is required for both MS and E development and that skn-1 encodes a transcription factor. We show here that the pop-1 gene encodes a protein with an HMG box similar to the HMG boxes in the vertebrate lymphoid-specific transcriptional regulators TCF-1 and LEF-1. We propose that POP-1 and SKN-1 function together in the early embryo to allow MS-specific differentiation.

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