The dauer larva of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans is a good model system for investigating the regulation of developmental fates by environmental cues. Here we show that SDF-9, a protein tyrosine phosphatase-like molecule, is involved in the regulation of dauer larva formation. The dauer larva of sdf-9 mutants is different from a normal dauer larva but resembles the dauer-like larva of daf-9 and daf-12 dauer-constitutive mutants. Like these mutants, the dauer-constitutive phenotypes of sdf-9 mutants were greatly enhanced by cholesterol deprivation. Epistasis analyses, together with the relationship between sdf-9 mutations and daf-9 expression, suggested that SDF-9 increases the activity of DAF-9 or helps the execution of the DAF-9 function. SDF-9 was expressed in two head cells in which DAF-9 is expressed. By their position and by genetic mosaic experiments, we identified these cells as XXXL/R cells, which are known as embryonic hypodermal cells and whose function at later stages is unknown. Killing of the sdf-9-expressing cells in the wild-type first-stage larva induced formation of the dauer-like larva. Since this study on SDF-9 and former studies on DAF-9 showed that the functions of these proteins are related to those of steroids, XXXL/R cells seem to play a key role in the metabolism or function of a steroid hormone(s) that acts in dauer regulation.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology
- Developmental Biology