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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A April 28, 1998; 95 (9): 5072-5.

Rescue of Caenorhabditis elegans pharyngeal development by a vertebrate heart specification gene.

Haun C , Alexander J , Stainier DY , Okkema PG .

Development of pharyngeal muscle in nematodes and cardiac muscle in vertebrates and insects involves the related homeobox genes ceh-22, nkx2.5, and tinman, respectively. To determine whether the nematode and vertebrate genes perform similar functions, we examined activity of the zebrafish nkx2.5 gene in transgenic Caenorhabditis elegans. Here, we report that ectopic expression of nkx2.5 in C. elegans body wall muscle can directly activate expression of both the endogenous myo-2 gene, a ceh-22 target normally expressed only in pharyngeal muscle, and a synthetic reporter construct controlled by a multimerized CEH-22 binding site. nkx2.5 also efficiently rescues a ceh-22 mutant when expressed in pharyngeal muscle. Together, these results indicate that nkx2.5 and ceh-22 provide a single conserved molecular function. Further, they suggest that an evolutionarily conserved mechanism underlies heart development in vertebrates and insects and pharyngeal development in nematodes.

PubMed ID: 9560230
PMC ID: PMC20215
Article link: Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A
Grant support: [+]
Genes referenced: ces3.7 nkx2-5

References [+] :
Avery, Pharyngeal pumping continues after laser killing of the pharyngeal nervous system of C. elegans. 1990, Pubmed

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