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Genes Dev. 1993 Sep;7(9):1714-24.

Multiple HOM-C gene interactions specify cell fates in the nematode central nervous system.

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Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, University of California, San Francisco 94143-0554.


Intricate patterns of overlapping HOM-C gene expression along the A/P axis have been observed in many organisms; however, the significance of these patterns in establishing the ultimate fates of individual cells is not well understood. We have examined the expression of the Caenorhabditis elegans Antennapedia homolog mab-5 and its role in specifying cell fates in the posterior of the ventral nerve cord. We find that the pattern of fates specified by mab-5 not only depends on mab-5 expression but also on post-translational interactions with the neighboring HOM-C gene lin-39 and a second, inferred gene activity. Where mab-5 expression overlaps with lin-39 activity, they can interact in two different ways depending on the cell type: They can either effectively neutralize one another where they are both expressed or lin-39 can predominate over mab-5. As observed for Antennapedia in Drosophila, expression of mab-5 itself is repressed by the next most posterior HOM-C gene, egl-5. Thus, a surprising diversity in HOM-C regulatory mechanisms exists within a small set of cells even in a simple organism.

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