CEH-20/Pbx and UNC-62/Meis function upstream of rnt-1/Runx to regulate asymmetric divisions of the C. Elegans stem-like seam cells

S. Hughes, C. Brabin, P.J. Appleford, A. Woollard

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


© 2013 Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd.Caenorhabditis elegans seam cells divide in the stem-like mode throughout larval development, with the ability to both selfrenew and produce daughters that differentiate. Seam cells typically divide asymmetrically, giving rise to an anterior daughter that fuses with the hypodermis and a posterior daughter that proliferates further. Previously we have identified rnt-1 (a homologue of the mammalian cancerassociated stem cell regulator Runx) as being an important regulator of seam development, acting to promote proliferation; rnt-1 mutants have fewer seam cells whereas overexpressing rnt-1 causes seam cell hyperplasia. We isolated the interacting CEH-20/Pbx and UNC-62/Meis TALE-class transcription factors during a genome-wide RNAi screen for novel regulators of seam cell number. Animals lacking wild type CEH-20 or UNC-62 display seam cell hyperplasia, largely restricted to the anterior of the worm, whereas double mutants have many additional seam cells along the length of the animal. The cellular basis of the hyperplasia involves the symmetrisation of normally asymmetric seam cell divisions towards the proliferative stem-like fate. The hyperplasia is completely suppressed in rnt-1 mutants, and rnt-1 is upregulated in ceh-20 and unc-62 mutants, suggesting that CEH-20 and UNC-62 function upstream of rnt-1 to limit proliferative potential to the appropriate daughter cell. In further support of this we find that CEH-20 is asymmetrically localised in seam daughters following an asymmetric division, being predominantly restricted to anterior nuclei whose fate is to differentiate. Thus, ceh-20 and unc-62 encode crucial regulators of seam cell division asymmetry, acting via rnt-1 to regulate the balance between proliferation and differentiation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)718-727
JournalBiology open
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jul 2013
Externally publishedYes


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