Publication Date


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Academic Program

Interdisciplinary Graduate Program


Program in Molecular Medicine

First Thesis Advisor

Victor Ambros


LIN-28, C. elegans, somatic gonad, reproductive system


lin-28 was first characterized as a developmental timing regulator in Caenorhabditis elegans. Loss of lin-28 function (lin-28(lf)) mutants skip the hypodermal cell fates specific to the 2nd larval stage. Here, we studied two aspects of lin-28 which had not yet been investigated.

First, we show that lin-28(lf) mutants exhibit reduced fertility associated with abnormal somatic gonadal morphology. In particular, the abnormal spermatheca-uterine valve morphology of lin-28(lf) hermaphrodites traps embryos in the spermatheca, which disrupts ovulation and causes embryonic lethality. The same genes downstream of lin-28 in the regulation of hypodermal developmental timing also act downstream of lin-28 in somatic gonadal morphogenesis and fertility. Importantly, we find that hypodermal expression, but not somatic gonadal expression, of lin-28 is sufficient for restoring normal somatic gonadal morphology in lin-28(lf) mutants. We propose that the abnormal somatic gonadal morphogenesis of lin-28(lf) hermaphrodites results from temporal discoordination between the accelerated hypodermal development and normally timed somatic gonadal development. Thus, our findings exemplify how a cell-intrinsic developmental timing program can also control proper development of other interacting tissues, cell non-autonomously.

We also investigated the expression patterns and functions of two lin-28 isoforms in C. elegans. Our analysis of spatial expression patterns suggests that lin-28a and lin-28b are co-expressed in diverse tissues. Consistently, neither of isoform specific knock-out mutant, lin-28a(lf) or lin-28b(lf), exhibits defects in hypodermal development, somatic gonad, or fertility, indicating functional redundancy of two isoforms. Our study will contribute to further investigation of lin-28 isoforms by providing the mutants of each isoform as well as the primary analysis of their phenotypes.



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