The fusion of the Caenorhabditis elegans uterine anchor cell (AC) with the uterine-seam cell (utse) is an excellent model system for studying cell-cell fusion, which is essential to animal development. We obtained an egg-laying defective (Egl) mutant in which the AC fails to fuse with the utse. This defect is highly specific: other aspects of utse development and other cell fusions appear to occur normally. We find that defect is due to a missense mutation in the nsf-1 gene, which encodes N-ethylmaleimide-sensitive factor (NSF), an intracellular membrane fusion factor. There are two NSF-1 isoforms, which are expressed in distinct tissues through two separate promoters. NSF-1L is expressed in the uterus, including the AC. We find that nsf-1 is required cell-autonomously in the AC for its fusion with the utse. Our results establish AC fusion as a paradigm for studying cell fusion at single cell resolution and demonstrate that the NSF ATPase is a key player in this process.
- C. elegans
- Cell fusion