NIH Research Festival
Spatial polarity cues in animals are used repeatedly during development for many processes, including cell fate determination, cell migration, and axon guidance. In C. elegans, the body wall muscle extends the length of the animal in four distinct quadrants and generates an UNC-129/TGF-β-related signal that is much higher in the dorsal two muscle quadrants compared to their ventral counterparts. This pattern of unc-129 expression requires the activity of the proposed transcriptional repressor UNC-130/FOXD whose body wall muscle activity is restricted to the ventral two body wall muscle quadrants. To understand how these dorsal-ventral differences in UNC-130 activity are established and maintained, we have analyzed the regulation of unc-130 expression and the distribution of UNC-130 protein. We have identified widespread, cis-acting elements in the unc-130 promoter that function to positively regulate ventral body wall muscle expression and negatively regulate dorsal body wall muscle expression. We have defined the temporal distribution of UNC-130 protein in body wall muscle cells during embryogenesis, demonstrated that this pattern is required to establish the dorsal-ventral polarity of UNC-129/TGF-β, and shown that UNC-130 is not required post-embryonically to maintain the asymmetry of body wall muscle unc-129 expression. Finally, we have tested the impact of the depletion of a variety of transcription factors, repressors, and signaling molecules to identify additional regulators of body wall muscle UNC-130 polarity. These results further our understanding of the transcriptional logic behind the generation of polarity.
Scientific Focus Area: Institute, Center, and Scientific Directors
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