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Cell. 1996 Oct 18;87(2):205-16.

MEX-3 is a KH domain protein that regulates blastomere identity in early C. elegans embryos.

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Department of Basic Sciences, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, Washington 98109, USA.


After the first division of the C. elegans embryo, the posterior blastomere can produce numerous muscles while the anterior blastomere cannot. We show here that maternal-effect lethal mutations in the gene mex-3 cause descendants of the anterior blastomere to produce muscles by a pattern of development similar to that of a descendant of the wild-type posterior blastomere. mex-3 encodes a probable RNA-binding protein that is distributed unequally in early embryos and that is a component of germline-specific granules called P granules. We propose that MEX-3 contributes to anterior-posterior asymmetry by regulating one or more mRNAs involved in specifying the fate of the posterior blastomere.

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