UMMS Affiliation

Program in Molecular Medicine

Publication Date


Document Type

Article Postprint


Developmental Biology


C. elegans heterochronic genes determine the timing of expression of specific cell fates in particular stages of developing larva. However, their broader roles in coordinating developmental events across diverse tissues have been less well investigated. Here, we show that loss of lin-28, a central heterochronic regulator of hypodermal development, causes 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 that act 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, presumably by cell non-autonomous signal(s).


Heterochornic pathway, Lin-28, Morphogenesis, Reproductive system, Somatic gonad

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© 2019. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd. Authors' accepted manuscript posted 12 months after publication per publisher's license at

DOI of Published Version



Choi S, Ambros V. The C. elegans heterochronic gene lin-28 coordinates the timing of hypodermal and somatic gonadal programs for hermaphrodite reproductive system morphogenesis. Development. 2019 Feb 11. pii: dev.164293. doi:10.1242/dev.164293. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 30745431. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Development (Cambridge, England)

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Link to article in PubMed

PubMed ID