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J Cell Biol. 1999 Jan 11;144(1):45-57.

A conserved LIM protein that affects muscular adherens junction integrity and mechanosensory function in Caenorhabditis elegans.

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Department of Molecular Biology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Department of Genetics, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02114,


We describe here the molecular and functional characterization of the Caenorhabditis elegans unc-97 gene, whose gene product constitutes a novel component of muscular adherens junctions. UNC-97 and homologues from several other species define the PINCH family, a family of LIM proteins whose modular composition of five LIM domains implicates them as potential adapter molecules. unc-97 expression is restricted to tissue types that attach to the hypodermis, specifically body wall muscles, vulval muscles, and mechanosensory neurons. In body wall muscles, the UNC-97 protein colocalizes with the beta-integrin PAT-3 to the focal adhesion-like attachment sites of muscles. Partial and complete loss-of-function studies demonstrate that UNC-97 affects the structural integrity of the integrin containing muscle adherens junctions and contributes to the mechanosensory functions of touch neurons. The expression of a Drosophila homologue of unc-97 in two integrin containing cell types, muscles, and muscle-attached epidermal cells, suggests that unc-97 function in adherens junction assembly and stability has been conserved across phylogeny. In addition to its localization to adherens junctions UNC-97 can also be detected in the nucleus, suggesting multiple functions for this LIM domain protein.

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