A new kind of informational suppression in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans.
J Hodgkin, A Papp, R Pulak, V Ambros, P Anderson

Abstract

Independent reversions of mutations affecting three different Caenorhabditis elegans genes have each yielded representatives of the same set of extragenic suppressors. Mutations at any one of six loci act as allele-specific recessive suppressors of certain allels of unc-54 (a myosin heavy chain gene), lin-29 (a heterochronic gene), and tra-2 (a sex determination gene). The same mutations also suppress certain alleles of another sex determination gene, tra-1, and of a morphogenetic gene, dpy-5. In addition to their suppression phenotype, the suppressor mutations cause abnormal morphogenesis of the male bursa and the hermaphrodite vulva. We name these genes smg-1 through smg-6 (suppressor with morphogenetic effect on genitalia), in order to distinguish them from mab (male abnormal) genes that can mutate to produce abnormal genitalia but which do not act as suppressors (smg-1 and smg-2 are new names for two previously described genes, mab-1 and mab-11). The patterns of suppression, and the interactions between the different smg genes, are described and discussed. In general, suppression is recessive and incomplete, and at least some of the suppressed mutations are hypomorphic in nature. A suppressible allele of unc-54 contains a deletion in the 3' noncoding region of the gene; the protein coding region of the gene is apparently unaffected. This suggests that the smg suppressors affect a process other than translation, for example mRNA processing, transport, or stability.