Note to users. If you're seeing this message, it means that your browser cannot find this page's style/presentation instructions -- or possibly that you are using a browser that does not support current Web standards. Find out more about why this message is appearing, and what you can do to make your experience of our site the best it can be.


Logo for

Science 311 (5762): 851-853

Copyright © 2006 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Translational Regulators Maintain Totipotency in the Caenorhabditis elegans Germline

Rafal Ciosk,1*{dagger} Michael DePalma,1,2 James R. Priess1,2,3

Abstract: The molecular mechanisms that maintain totipotency of the germline are not well understood. Here, we show that two conserved translational regulators, MEX-3 and GLD-1, are essential for maintaining totipotency in the Caenorhabditis elegans germline. In mex-3 gld-1 mutants, germ cells transdifferentiate into various somatic cell types such as muscles or neurons. Our findings implicate RNA regulation in the maintenance of totipotency, suggest that multiple mechanisms maintain totipotency at different stages of germline development, and establish a genetically tractable model for studying the development of teratomas.

1 Division of Basic Sciences, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA 98109, USA.
2 Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Seattle, WA 98109, USA.
3 Molecular and Cellular Biology Program and Department of Biology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA.

* Present address: Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research, 4058 Basel, Switzerland.

{dagger} To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: rafal.ciosk{at}

Transdifferentiation and remodeling of post-embryonic C. elegans cells by a single transcription factor.
M. R. Riddle, A. Weintraub, K. C. Q. Nguyen, D. H. Hall, and J. H. Rothman (2013)
Development 140, 4844-4849
   Abstract »    Full Text »    PDF »
CDX2 regulation by the RNA-binding protein MEX3A: impact on intestinal differentiation and stemness.
B. Pereira, S. Sousa, R. Barros, L. Carreto, P. Oliveira, C. Oliveira, N. T. Chartier, M. Plateroti, J.-P. Rouault, J.-N. Freund, et al. (2013)
Nucleic Acids Res. 41, 3986-3999
   Abstract »    Full Text »    PDF »
Mex3c Mutation Reduces Adiposity and Increases Energy Expenditure.
Y. Jiao, S. K. George, Q. Zhao, M. W. Hulver, S. M. Hutson, C. E. Bishop, and B. Lu (2012)
Mol. Cell. Biol. 32, 4350-4362
   Abstract »    Full Text »    PDF »
PUF-8, a Pumilio Homolog, Inhibits the Proliferative Fate in the Caenorhabditis elegans Germline.
H. Racher and D. Hansen (2012)
g3 2, 1197-1205
   Abstract »    Full Text »    PDF »
Mex3c regulates insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF1) expression and promotes postnatal growth.
Y. Jiao, C. E. Bishop, and B. Lu (2012)
Mol. Biol. Cell 23, 1404-1413
   Abstract »    Full Text »    PDF »
Epigenetic Licensing of Germline Gene Expression by Maternal RNA in C. elegans.
C. L. Johnson and A. M. Spence (2011)
Science 333, 1311-1314
   Abstract »    Full Text »    PDF »
Evolution of RNA-Binding Proteins in Animals: Insights from Genome-Wide Analysis in the Sponge Amphimedon queenslandica.
P. Kerner, S. M. Degnan, L. Marchand, B. M. Degnan, and M. Vervoort (2011)
Mol. Biol. Evol. 28, 2289-2303
   Abstract »    Full Text »    PDF »
Molecular Regulation of the Mitosis/Meiosis Decision in Multicellular Organisms.
J. Kimble (2011)
Cold Spring Harb Perspect Biol 3, a002683
   Abstract »    Full Text »    PDF »
Toward Reprogramming Gonads to Brains.
S. Strome (2011)
Science 331, 292-293
   Abstract »    Full Text »    PDF »
Direct Conversion of C. elegans Germ Cells into Specific Neuron Types.
B. Tursun, T. Patel, P. Kratsios, and O. Hobert (2011)
Science 331, 304-308
   Abstract »    Full Text »    PDF »
A conserved germline multipotency program.
C. E. Juliano, S. Z. Swartz, and G. M. Wessel (2010)
Development 137, 4113-4126
   Abstract »    Full Text »    PDF »
zif-1 translational repression defines a second, mutually exclusive OMA function in germline transcriptional repression.
T. Guven-Ozkan, S. M. Robertson, Y. Nishi, and R. Lin (2010)
Development 137, 3373-3382
   Abstract »    Full Text »    PDF »
Perinuclear P granules are the principal sites of mRNA export in adult C. elegans germ cells.
U. Sheth, J. Pitt, S. Dennis, and J. R. Priess (2010)
Development 137, 1305-1314
   Abstract »    Full Text »    PDF »
RNA recognition by the embryonic cell fate determinant and germline totipotency factor MEX-3.
J. M. Pagano, B. M. Farley, K. I. Essien, and S. P. Ryder (2009)
PNAS 106, 20252-20257
   Abstract »    Full Text »    PDF »
Xenopus oocytes reactivate muscle gene transcription in transplanted somatic nuclei independently of myogenic factors.
A. Biddle, I. Simeoni, and J. B. Gurdon (2009)
Development 136, 2695-2703
   Abstract »    Full Text »    PDF »
Less is more: specification of the germline by transcriptional repression.
A. Nakamura and G. Seydoux (2008)
Development 135, 3817-3827
   Abstract »    Full Text »    PDF »
Interaction with 14-3-3 Adaptors Regulates the Sorting of hMex-3B RNA-binding Protein to Distinct Classes of RNA Granules.
J. Courchet, K. Buchet-Poyau, A. Potemski, A. Bres, I. Jariel-Encontre, and M. Billaud (2008)
J. Biol. Chem. 283, 32131-32142
   Abstract »    Full Text »    PDF »
Protection of specific maternal messenger RNAs by the P body protein CGH-1 (Dhh1/RCK) during Caenorhabditis elegans oogenesis.
P. R. Boag, A. Atalay, S. Robida, V. Reinke, and T. K. Blackwell (2008)
J. Cell Biol. 182, 543-557
   Abstract »    Full Text »    PDF »
Genetic Analysis of the Caenorhabditis elegans GLH Family of P-Granule Proteins.
C. Spike, N. Meyer, E. Racen, A. Orsborn, J. Kirchner, K. Kuznicki, C. Yee, K. Bennett, and S. Strome (2008)
Genetics 178, 1973-1987
   Abstract »    Full Text »    PDF »
A Caenorhabditis elegans model for epithelial-neuronal transdifferentiation.
S. Jarriault, Y. Schwab, and I. Greenwald (2008)
PNAS 105, 3790-3795
   Abstract »    Full Text »    PDF »
Germ Versus Soma Decisions: Lessons from Flies and Worms.
S. Strome and R. Lehmann (2007)
Science 316, 392-393
   Abstract »    Full Text »    PDF »
The Mysteries of Sexual Identity: The Germ Cell's Perspective.
J. Kimble and D. C. Page (2007)
Science 316, 400-401
   Abstract »    Full Text »    PDF »
Identification and characterization of human Mex-3 proteins, a novel family of evolutionarily conserved RNA-binding proteins differentially localized to processing bodies.
K. Buchet-Poyau, J. Courchet, H. L. Hir, B. Seraphin, J.-Y. Scoazec, L. Duret, C. Domon-Dell, J.-N. Freund, and M. Billaud (2007)
Nucleic Acids Res. 35, 1289-1300
   Abstract »    Full Text »    PDF »

To Advertise     Find Products

Science Signaling. ISSN 1937-9145 (online), 1945-0877 (print). Pre-2008: Science's STKE. ISSN 1525-8882