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Published December 1, 2014 | Supplemental Material
Journal Article Open

Spatial and molecular cues for cell outgrowth during C. elegans uterine development


The Caenorhabditis elegans uterine seam cell (utse) is an H-shaped syncytium that connects the uterus to the body wall. Comprising nine nuclei that move outward in a bidirectional manner, this synctium undergoes remarkable shape change during development. Using cell ablation experiments, we show that three surrounding cell types affect utse development: uterine toroids, the anchor cell and the sex myoblasts. The presence of the anchor cell (AC) nucleus within the utse is necessary for proper utse development and AC invasion genes fos-1, cdh-3, him-4, egl-43, zmp-1 and mig-10 promote utse cell outgrowth. Two types of uterine lumen epithelial cells, uterine toroid 1 (ut1) and uterine toroid 2 (ut2), mediate proper utse outgrowth and we show roles in utse development two genes expressed in the uterine toroids: RASEF ortholog rsef-1 and Trio/unc-73. The SM expressed gene unc-53/NAV regulates utse cell shape; ablation of sex myoblasts (SMs), which generate uterine and vulval muscles, cause defects in utse morphology. Our results clarify the nature of the interactions that exist between utse and surrounding tissue, identify new roles for genes involved in cell outgrowth, and present the utse as a new model system for understanding cell shape change and, putatively, diseases associated with cell shape change.

Additional Information

© 2014 Published by Elsevier Inc. Received 4 June 2014; Received in revised form 19 September 2014; Accepted 22 September 2014; Available online 2 October 2014. We thank Matthew Buechner (University of Kansas), David Sherwood (Duke University), Ian Hope (University of Leeds), Nathalie Pujol (Centre d'Immunologie de Marseille-Luminy) and the Caenorhabditis Genetics Center (University of Minnesota) for worm strains; Sang Nguyen for verification of uterine toroid genes; Barbara Perry and Gladys Medina for technical assistance; Wendy Hanna-Rose, Marianne Bronner, Bruce Hay, David Chan, Amir Sapir, Mihoko Kato, Paul Minor and Hillel Schwartz for helpful discussions and critically reading the manuscript. S.G. was supported by National Institutes of Health USPHS training grant GM07616. This work was supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, with which P.W.S. is an investigator.

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