May 23, 2020

Polarized epidermal growth factor secretion ensures robust vulval cell fate specification in Caenorhabditis elegans

Development
Louisa MereuAlex Hajnal

Abstract

The anchor cell (AC) in C. elegans secretes an EGF homolog that induces adjacent vulval precursor cells (VPCs) to differentiate. The EGF receptor in the nearest VPC sequesters the limiting EGF amounts released by the AC to prevent EGF from spreading to distal VPCs. Here, we show that not only EGFR localization in the VPCs but also EGF polarity in the AC is necessary for robust fate specification. The AC secretes EGF in a directional manner towards the nearest VPC. Loss of AC polarity causes signal spreading and, when combined with MAPK pathway hyperactivation, the ectopic induction of distal VPCs. In a screen for genes preventing distal VPC induction, we identified sra-9 and nlp-26 as genes specifically required for polarized EGF secretion. sra-9(lf) and nlp-26(lf) mutants exhibit errors in vulval fate specification, reduced precision in VPC to AC alignment and increased variability in MAPK activation. sra-9 encodes a seven-pass trans-membrane receptor acting in the AC and nlp-26 a neuropeptide-like protein expressed in the VPCs. SRA-9 and NLP-26 may transduce a feedback signal to channel EGF secretion towards the nearest VPC.

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Mentioned in this Paper

Genes
VPC Protocol
Ectopic (Qualifier Value)
Activation of Mapk Activity
Premature Ventricular Contractions
Distal Muscle
Steroid receptor RNA activator
Proximal
Screening Generic
NLP 1

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