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EGL-5/ABD-B plays an instructive role in male cell fate determination in the C. elegans somatic gonad.


Hox genes of the Abdominal-B (Abd-B) class regulate gonadal development in diverse metazoans. Here we have investigated the role of the Abd-B homolog egl-5 in C. elegans gonadal development. Previous work showed that egl-5 is required male-specifically in the gonad and that mutant gonads are highly dysgenic and possibly feminized. We have used sex-specific gonadal reporter genes to confirm that the gonads of egl-5 males are extensively feminized. Sex-specific expression of egl-5 requires the global sex determination gene tra-1 and the gonadal masculinizing gene fkh-6, but mutagenesis of a short male gonadal enhancer element in egl-5 suggested that this regulation is indirect. Ectopic expression of EGL-5 in hermaphrodites is sufficient to induce male gonadal gene expression, indicating that EGL-5 plays an instructive role in male gonadal fate determination. EGL-5 acts in parallel with a Wnt/beta-catenin pathway to regulate male gonadal fates and can physically interact with the Wnt pathway transcription factor POP-1 and modulate activity of a POP-1 dependent reporter gene. We propose that EGL-5 imparts sex-specific function on POP-1 by recruiting it to male-specific gonadal target genes.

Pubmed ID: 20553900


  • Kalis AK
  • Murphy MW
  • Zarkower D


Developmental biology

Publication Data

August 15, 2010

Associated Grants

  • Agency: NIGMS NIH HHS, Id: GM53099
  • Agency: NIGMS NIH HHS, Id: R01 GM053099
  • Agency: NIGMS NIH HHS, Id: R01 GM053099-13
  • Agency: NICHD NIH HHS, Id: T32HD007480

Mesh Terms

  • Animals
  • Caenorhabditis elegans
  • Genes, Homeobox
  • Genes, Reporter
  • Gonads
  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • Male
  • beta Catenin