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Nov 1999 Oncogene

let-756, a C. elegans fgf essential for worm development.


Roubin R, Naert K, Popovici C, Vatcher G, Coulier F, Thierry-Mieg J, Pontarotti P, Birnbaum D, Baillie D, Thierry-Mieg D


In vertebrates, Fibroblast Growth Factors (FGFs) and their receptors are involved in various developmental and pathological processes, including neoplasia. The number of FGFs and their large range of activities have made the understanding of their precise functions difficult. Investigating their biology in other species might be enlightening. A sequence encoding a putative protein presenting 30-40% identity with the conserved core of vertebrate FGFs has been identified by the C. elegans sequencing consortium. We show here that this gene is transcribed and encodes a putative protein of 425 amino acids (aa). The gene is expressed at all stages of development beyond late embryogenesis, peaking at the larval stages. Loss-of-function mutants of the let-756 gene are rescued by the wild type fgf gene in germline transformation experiments. Two partial loss-of-function alleles, s2613 and s2809, have a mutation that replaces aa 317 by a stop. The truncated protein retains the FGF core but lacks a C-termins portion. These worms are small and develop slowly into clear and scrawny, yet viable and fertile adults. A third allele, s2887, is inactivated by an inversion that disrupts the first exon. It causes a developmental arrest early in the larval stages. Thus, in contrast to the other nematode fgf gene egl-17, let-756/fgf is essential for worm development.

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