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MAP kinase signaling antagonizes PAR-1 function during polarization of the early Caenorhabditis elegans embryo.

Spilker AC, Rabilotta A, Zbinden C, Labbé JC, Gotta M

Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Institute of Biochemistry, ETH Hönggerberg, 8093 Zürich, Switzerland.

PAR proteins (partitioning defective) are major regulators of cell polarity and asymmetric cell division. One of the par genes, par-1, encodes a Ser/Thr kinase that is conserved from yeast to mammals. In Caenorhabditis elegans, par-1 governs asymmetric cell division by ensuring the polar distribution of cell fate determinants. However the precise mechanisms by which PAR-1 regulates asymmetric cell division in C. elegans remain to be elucidated. We performed a genomewide RNAi screen and identified six genes that specifically suppress the embryonic lethal phenotype associated with mutations in par-1. One of these suppressors is mpk-1, the C. elegans homolog of the conserved mitogen activated protein (MAP) kinase ERK. Loss of function of mpk-1 restored embryonic viability, asynchronous cell divisions, the asymmetric distribution of cell fate specification markers, and the distribution of PAR-1 protein in par-1 mutant embryos, indicating that this genetic interaction is functionally relevant for embryonic development. Furthermore, disrupting the function of other components of the MAPK signaling pathway resulted in suppression of par-1 embryonic lethality. Our data therefore indicates that MAP kinase signaling antagonizes PAR-1 signaling during early C. elegans embryonic polarization.

Genetics 2009;183(3):965-77.

Pubmed ID: 19720857

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