Germline stem cell differentiation in Caenorhabditis elegans is controlled by glp-1 Notch signaling. Cell fate regulator GLD-1 is sufficient to induce meiotic entry and expressed at a high level during meiotic prophase, inhibiting mitotic gene activity. glp-1 signaling and other regulators control GLD-1 levels post-transcriptionally (low in stem cells, high in meiotic prophase), but many aspects of GLD-1 regulation are uncharacterized, including the link between glp-1-mediated transcriptional control and post-transcriptional GLD-1 regulation. We established a sensitive assay to quantify GLD-1 levels across an ~35-cell diameter field, where distal germline stem cells differentiate proximally into meiotic prophase cells in the adult C. elegans hermaphrodite, and applied the approach to mutants in known or proposed GLD-1 regulators. In wild-type GLD-1 levels elevated ~20-fold in a sigmoidal pattern. We found that two direct transcriptional targets of glp-1 signaling, lst-1 and sygl-1, were individually required for repression of GLD-1. We determined that lst-1 and sygl-1 act in the same genetic pathway as known GLD-1 translational repressor fbf-1, while lst-1 also acts in parallel to fbf-1, linking glp-1-mediated transcriptional control and post-transcriptional GLD-1 repression. Additionally, we estimated the position in wild-type gonads where germ cells irreversibly commit to meiotic development based on GLD-1 levels in worms where glp-1 activity was manipulated to cause an irreversible fate switch. Analysis of known repressors and activators, as well as modeling the sigmoidal accumulation pattern, indicated that regulation of GLD-1 levels is largely regional, which we integrated with the current view of germline stem cell differentiation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1085-1103
Number of pages19
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2016


  • Caenorhabditis elegans
  • Cell fate regulation
  • GLD-1
  • GLP-1 Notch
  • Germline stem cells
  • Meiotic entry
  • Post-transcriptional control


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