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The Caenorhabditis elegans vulva: A post-embryonic gene regulatory network controlling organogenesis

Ririe, Ted O. and Fernandes, Jolene S. and Sternberg, Paul W. (2008) The Caenorhabditis elegans vulva: A post-embryonic gene regulatory network controlling organogenesis. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 105 (51). pp. 20095-20099. ISSN 0027-8424. PMCID PMC2629251. doi:10.1073/pnas.0806377105.

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The Caenorhabditis elegans vulva is an elegant model for dissecting a gene regulatory network (GRN) that directs postembryonic organogenesis. The mature vulva comprises seven cell types (vulA, vulB1, vulB2, vulC, vulD, vulE, and vulF), each with its own unique pattern of spatial and temporal gene expression. The mechanisms that specify these cell types in a precise spatial pattern are not well understood. Using reverse genetic screens, we identified novel components of the vulval GRN, including nhr-113 in vulA. Several transcription factors (lin-11, lin-29, cog-1, egl-38, and nhr-67) interact with each other and act in concert to regulate target gene expression in the diverse vulval cell types. For example, egl-38 (Pax2/5/8) stabilizes the vulF fate by positively regulating vulF characteristics and by inhibiting characteristics associated with the neighboring vulE cells. nhr-67 and egl-38 regulate cog-1, helping restrict its expression to vulE. Computational approaches have been successfully used to identify functional cis-regulatory motifs in the zmp-1 (zinc metalloproteinase) promoter. These results provide an overview of the regulatory network architecture for each vulval cell type.

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Sternberg, Paul W.0000-0002-7699-0173
Additional Information:© 2008 by The National Academy of Sciences of the USA. Edited by Michael S. Levine, University of California, Berkeley, CA, and approved August 25, 2008 (received for review July 10, 2008). Published online before print December 22, 2008, doi: 10.1073/pnas.0806377105 We thank A. Mortazavi for help with comparative genomics, H. Chamberlin (Ohio State University, Columbus, OH) for guEx877; A. Fire (Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA) for GFP vectors; S.-H. Kim for his assistance with the zmp-1::GFP RNAi screen; M. Kato, S. Kuntz, E. Schwarz and X. Wang for comments on the manuscript; and T. Inoue for discussions. T.O.R. was supported by National Institutes of Health Grant T32-GM007616. P.W.S. is an investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Author contributions: T.O.R., J.S.F., and P.W.S. designed research; T.O.R. and J.S.F. performed research; T.O.R., J.S.F., and P.W.S. analyzed data; and T.O.R., J.S.F., and P.W.S. wrote the paper. This paper results from the Arthur M. Sackler Colloquium of the National Academy of Sciences, “Gene Networks in Animal Development and Evolution,” held February 15–16, 2008, at the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center of the National Academies of Sciences and Engineering in Irvine, CA. The complete program and audio files of most presentations are available on the NAS web site at The authors declare no conflict of interest. This article is a PNAS Direct Submission. This article contains supporting information online at
Funding AgencyGrant Number
NIH Predoctoral FellowshipT32-GM007616
Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI)UNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:genetic regulatory networks; nematode; transcriptional regulation
Issue or Number:51
PubMed Central ID:PMC2629251
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:RIRpnas08
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Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:13010
Deposited By: Archive Administrator
Deposited On:15 Jan 2009 07:04
Last Modified:08 Nov 2021 22:34

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