Twenty-four mutants that alter the normally invariant post-embryonic cell lineages of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans have been isolated and genetically characterized. In some of these mutants, cell divisions fail that occur in wild-type animals; in other mutants, cells divide that do not normally do so. The mutants differ in the specificities of their defects, so that it is possible to identify mutations that affect some cell lineages but not others. These mutants define 14 complementation groups, which have been mapped. The abnormal phenotype of most of the cell-lineage mutants results from a single recessive mutation; however, the excessive cell divisions characteristic of one strain, CB1322, require the presence of two unlinked recessive mutations. All 24 cell-lineage mutants display incomplete penetrance and/or variable expressivity. Three of the mutants are suppressed by pleiotropic suppressors believed to be specific for null alleles, suggesting that their phenotypes result from the complete absence of gene activity.
- Received May 16, 1980.