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A cell-specific enhancer that specifies lin-3 expression in the C. elegans anchor cell for vulval development
Byung Joon Hwang, Paul W. Sternberg


During C. elegans vulval development, the anchor cell (AC) in the somatic gonad expresses lin-3, activating the EGF receptor signaling pathway in vulval precursor cells (VPCs) and thereby inducing and patterning VPCs. Previous studies with lin-3 mutants and transgene expression have revealed that the level of LIN-3 in the AC must be precisely regulated for proper vulval development. To understand how lin-3 expression is achieved in the AC, we identified a 59 bp lin-3 enhancer sufficient to activate lin-3 transcription solely in the AC. The enhancer contains two E-box elements, and one FTZ-F1 nuclear hormone receptor (NHR) binding site that is mutated in a vulvaless mutant, lin-3(e1417). Mutagenesis studies show that both E-boxes and the NHR binding site are necessary to express lin-3 in the AC. In vitro DNA-binding studies and in vivo functional assays indicate that distinct trans-acting factors, including the E-protein/Daughterless homolog HLH-2 and unidentified nuclear hormone receptor(s), are necessary for lin-3 transcription in the AC and thus are involved in vulval development.


    • Accepted September 23, 2003.
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