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Prolonging somatic cell proliferation through constitutive hox gene expression in C. elegans


Heinze, Svenia D; Berger, Simon; Engleitner, Stefanie; Daube, Michael; Hajnal, Alex (2023). Prolonging somatic cell proliferation through constitutive hox gene expression in C. elegans. Nature Communications, 14(1):6850.

Abstract

hox genes encode a conserved family of homeodomain transcription factors that are essential to determine the identity of body segments during embryogenesis and maintain adult somatic stem cells competent to regenerate organs. In contrast to higher organisms, somatic cells in C. elegans irreversibly exit the cell cycle after completing their cell lineage and the adult soma cannot regenerate. Here, we show that hox gene expression levels in C. elegans determine the temporal competence of somatic cells to proliferate. Down-regulation of the central hox gene lin-39 in dividing vulval cells results in their premature cell cycle exit, whereas constitutive lin-39 expression causes precocious Pn.p cell and sex myoblast divisions and prolongs the proliferative phase of the vulval cells past their normal point of arrest. Furthermore, ectopic expression of hox genes in the quiescent anchor cell re-activates the cell cycle and induces proliferation until young adulthood. Thus, constitutive expression of a single hox transcription factor is sufficient to prolong somatic cell proliferation beyond the restriction imposed by the cell lineage. The down-regulation of hox gene expression in most somatic cells at the end of larval development may be one cause for the absence of cell proliferation in adult C. elegans.

Abstract

hox genes encode a conserved family of homeodomain transcription factors that are essential to determine the identity of body segments during embryogenesis and maintain adult somatic stem cells competent to regenerate organs. In contrast to higher organisms, somatic cells in C. elegans irreversibly exit the cell cycle after completing their cell lineage and the adult soma cannot regenerate. Here, we show that hox gene expression levels in C. elegans determine the temporal competence of somatic cells to proliferate. Down-regulation of the central hox gene lin-39 in dividing vulval cells results in their premature cell cycle exit, whereas constitutive lin-39 expression causes precocious Pn.p cell and sex myoblast divisions and prolongs the proliferative phase of the vulval cells past their normal point of arrest. Furthermore, ectopic expression of hox genes in the quiescent anchor cell re-activates the cell cycle and induces proliferation until young adulthood. Thus, constitutive expression of a single hox transcription factor is sufficient to prolong somatic cell proliferation beyond the restriction imposed by the cell lineage. The down-regulation of hox gene expression in most somatic cells at the end of larval development may be one cause for the absence of cell proliferation in adult C. elegans.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Molecular Life Sciences
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
Scopus Subject Areas:Physical Sciences > General Chemistry
Life Sciences > General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
Physical Sciences > General Physics and Astronomy
Language:English
Date:27 October 2023
Deposited On:01 Feb 2024 15:57
Last Modified:30 Jun 2024 01:38
Publisher:Nature Publishing Group
ISSN:2041-1723
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-023-42644-1
PubMed ID:37891160
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)