The distal tip cell (DTC) regulates the proliferation or differentiation choice in the Caenorhabditis elegans germline by an inductive mechanism. Cell signaling requires a putative receptor in the germline, encoded b y the glp-1 gene, and a putative signal from the DTC, encoded by the lag-2 gene. Both glp-1 and lag-2 belong to multigene gene families whose members are essential for cell signaling during development of various tissues in insects and vertebrates as well as C. elegans. Relatively little is known about how these pathways regulate cell fate choice. To identify additional genes involved in the glp-1 signaling pathway, we carried out screens for genetic enhancers of glp-1. We recovered mutations in five new genes, named ego (enhancer of glp-1), and two previously identified genes, lag-1 and glp-4, that strongly enhance a weak glp-1 loss-of-function phenotype in the germline. Ego mutations cause multiple phenotypes consistent with the idea that gene activity is required for more than one aspect of germline and, in some cases, somatic development. Based on genetic experiments, glp-1 appears to act upstream of ego-1 and ego-3. We discuss the possible functional relationships among these genes in light of their phenotypes and interactions with glp-1.
- Copyright © 1995 by the Genetics Society of America