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Mol Biol Cell. 1995 Sep;6(9):1159-71.

The C. elegans sex-determining gene fem-2 encodes a putative protein phosphatase.

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  • 1Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada.


The genetic and molecular analysis of genes involved in the regulation of sex determination in Caenorhabditis elegans suggests that the gene fem-2 plays an important role in regulating a pathway transducing a non-cell-autonomous signal to a nuclear transcription factor. The wild-type fem-2 gene was cloned by identifying sequences from the C. elegans physical map that could restore normal Fem-2 function to homozygous mutant fem-2 transgenic animals. cDNA sequences mapping to the minimal rescuing region correspond to an open reading frame with a sequence similar to protein phosphatase 2C enzymes from systems as diverse as yeast, humans, and plants, but the alignments suggest that FEM-2 falls into a separate class of proteins than the canonical homologues. Several fem-2 mutant alleles were sequenced, and the mutations are predicted to cause protein changes consistent with their observed phenotypes, such as missense mutations in conditional alleles, and a nonsense mutation in a predicted null allele. This is the first evidence implicating phosphorylation and/or dephosphorylation as a control mechanism in C. elegans sex determination.

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