Analysis of the role of tra-1 in germline sex determination in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans

T. Schedl, P. L. Graham, M. K. Barton, J. Kimble

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66 Scopus citations

Abstract

In wild-type Caenorhabditis elegans there are two sexes, self-fertilizing hermaphrodites (XX) and males (XO). To investigate the role of tra-1 in controlling sex determination in germline tissue, we have examined germline phenotypes of nine tra-1 loss-of-function (lf) mutations. Previous work has shown that tra-1 is needed for female somatic development as the nongonadal soma of tra-l(lf) XX mutants is masculinized. In contrast, the germline of tra-l(lf) XX and XO animals is often feminized; a brief period of spermatogenesis is followed by oogenesis, rather than the continuous spermatogenesis observed in wild-type males. In additional, abnormal gonadal (germ line and somatic gonad) phenotypes are observed which may reflect defects in development or function of somatic gonad regulatory cells. Analysis of germline feminization and abnormal gonadal phenotypes of the various mutations alone or in trans to a deficiency reveals that they cannot be ordered in an allelic series and they do not converge to a single phenotypic endpoint. These observations lead to the suggestion that tra-1 may produce multiple products and/or is autoregulated. One interpretation of the germline feminization is that tra-1(+) is necessary for continued specification of spermatogenesis in males. We also report the isolation and characterization of tra-1 gain-of-function (gf) mutations with novel phenotypes. These include temperature sensitive, recessive germline feminization, and partial somatic loss-of-function phenotypes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)755-769
Number of pages15
JournalGenetics
Volume123
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 21 1989
Externally publishedYes

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