Special Issue "Caenorhabditis elegans - A Developmental Genetic Model System"

A special issue of Journal of Developmental Biology (ISSN 2221-3759).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 June 2019).

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Morris F. Maduro
Website
Guest Editor
Department of Molecular, Cell and Systems Biology, University of California, Riverside, CA 92521, USA
Interests: gene regulatory networks; gene regulation; organogenesis; robustness; metabolism

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Although C. elegans is a relatively new player in invertebrate development model systems compared with Drosophila, having been brought into the field by Sydney Brenner in the mid-1970s, it remains a valuable system for studies in developmental genetics. Owing to its rapid development, well-defined lineage and availability of a continually developing set of powerful tools, including single-cell transcriptomics, ability to identify mutations with whole genome sequencing, and custom gene editing with CRISPR/Cas9, discoveries continue to be made in C. elegans in many areas of developmental biology. This Special Issue of the Journal of Developmental Biology aims to highlight some of these findings and speculate on the future of work in this system. Submissions may be reviews of C. elegans contributions to a major area in developmental genetics, or an original research article that reports new findings in such an area.

Prof. Dr. Morris F. Maduro
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Journal of Developmental Biology is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • C. elegans
  • Stem cells
  • Gene regulatory networks
  • Differentiation
  • Sex Determination
  • Morphogenesis
  • Germline/Soma Asymmetry

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
The Hox Gene egl-5 Acts as a Terminal Selector for VD13 Development via Wnt Signaling
J. Dev. Biol. 2020, 8(1), 5; https://doi.org/10.3390/jdb8010005 - 03 Mar 2020
Abstract
Nervous systems are comprised of diverse cell types that differ functionally and morphologically. During development, extrinsic signals, e.g., growth factors, can activate intrinsic programs, usually orchestrated by networks of transcription factors. Within that network, transcription factors that drive the specification of features specific [...] Read more.
Nervous systems are comprised of diverse cell types that differ functionally and morphologically. During development, extrinsic signals, e.g., growth factors, can activate intrinsic programs, usually orchestrated by networks of transcription factors. Within that network, transcription factors that drive the specification of features specific to a limited number of cells are often referred to as terminal selectors. While we still have an incomplete view of how individual neurons within organisms become specified, reporters limited to a subset of neurons in a nervous system can facilitate the discovery of cell specification programs. We have identified a fluorescent reporter that labels VD13, the most posterior of the 19 inhibitory GABA (γ-amino butyric acid)-ergic motorneurons, and two additional neurons, LUAL and LUAR. Loss of function in multiple Wnt signaling genes resulted in an incompletely penetrant loss of the marker, selectively in VD13, but not the LUAs, even though other aspects of GABAergic specification in VD13 were normal. The posterior Hox gene, egl-5, was necessary for expression of our marker in VD13, and ectopic expression of egl-5 in more anterior GABAergic neurons induced expression of the marker. These results suggest egl-5 is a terminal selector of VD13, subsequent to GABAergic specification. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Caenorhabditis elegans - A Developmental Genetic Model System)
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Open AccessArticle
Nematode Autotomy Requires Molting and Entails Tissue Healing without Obvious Regeneration
J. Dev. Biol. 2019, 7(4), 21; https://doi.org/10.3390/jdb7040021 - 23 Nov 2019
Abstract
Autotomy in C. elegans, which results in the severing of the body into two fragments, has been observed as a response to late larval worm-star formation after exposure to a bacterial surface pathogen. It was found that autotomy can occur in both [...] Read more.
Autotomy in C. elegans, which results in the severing of the body into two fragments, has been observed as a response to late larval worm-star formation after exposure to a bacterial surface pathogen. It was found that autotomy can occur in both hermaphroditic and gonochoristic nematode species, and during either the L3 or the L4 molt. Severing was hypothesized to be driven by a ‘balloon-twisting’ mechanism during molting but was found to be independent of lethargus-associated flipping. Extensive healing and apparent tissue fusion were seen at the site of scission. No obvious regeneration of lost body parts was seen in either L4 or adult truncated worms. A variety of mutants defective in processes of cell death, healing, regeneration, responses to damage, stress or pathogens were found to be competent to autotomize. Mutants specifically defective in autotomy have yet to be found. Autotomy may represent a modification of the essential normal process of molting. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Caenorhabditis elegans - A Developmental Genetic Model System)
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Open AccessArticle
Integrins Have Cell-Type-Specific Roles in the Development of Motor Neuron Connectivity
J. Dev. Biol. 2019, 7(3), 17; https://doi.org/10.3390/jdb7030017 - 27 Aug 2019
Abstract
Formation of the nervous system requires a complex series of events including proper extension and guidance of neuronal axons and dendrites. Here we investigate the requirement for integrins, a class of transmembrane cell adhesion receptors, in regulating these processes across classes of C. [...] Read more.
Formation of the nervous system requires a complex series of events including proper extension and guidance of neuronal axons and dendrites. Here we investigate the requirement for integrins, a class of transmembrane cell adhesion receptors, in regulating these processes across classes of C. elegans motor neurons. We show α integrin/ina-1 is expressed by both GABAergic and cholinergic motor neurons. Despite this, our analysis of hypomorphic ina-1(gm144) mutants indicates preferential involvement of α integrin/ina-1 in GABAergic commissural development, without obvious involvement in cholinergic commissural development. The defects in GABAergic commissures of ina-1(gm144) mutants included both premature termination and guidance errors and were reversed by expression of wild type ina-1 under control of the native ina-1 promoter. Our results also show that α integrin/ina-1 is important for proper outgrowth and guidance of commissures from both embryonic and post-embryonic born GABAergic motor neurons, indicating an ongoing requirement for integrin through two phases of GABAergic neuron development. Our findings provide insights into neuron-specific roles for integrin that would not be predicted based solely upon expression analysis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Caenorhabditis elegans - A Developmental Genetic Model System)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
The Chromatin Remodeler LET-418/Mi2 is Required Cell Non-Autonomously for the Post-Embryonic Development of Caenorhabditis elegans
J. Dev. Biol. 2019, 7(1), 1; https://doi.org/10.3390/jdb7010001 - 24 Dec 2018
Cited by 1
Abstract
Chromatin condition is crucial for the cells to respond to their environment. In C. elegans, post-embryonic development is accompanied by the exit of progenitor cells from quiescence in response to food. The chromatin protein LET-418/Mi2 is required for this transition in development [...] Read more.
Chromatin condition is crucial for the cells to respond to their environment. In C. elegans, post-embryonic development is accompanied by the exit of progenitor cells from quiescence in response to food. The chromatin protein LET-418/Mi2 is required for this transition in development indicating that proper chromatin structure in cells of the freshly hatched larvae is important to respond to food. However, the identity of the tissue or cells where LET-418/Mi2 is required, as well as the developmental signals that it is modulating have not been elucidated. By restoring the activity of LET-418/Mi2 in specific tissues, we demonstrate that its activity in the intestine and the hypodermis is able to promote in a cell non-autonomous manner the exit of blast cells from quiescence and further development. Furthermore, we identify the IIS (insulin/insulin-like growth factor signaling) pathway to be one of the signaling pathways that is conveying LET-418/Mi2 cell non-autonomous effect on development. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Caenorhabditis elegans - A Developmental Genetic Model System)
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Review

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Open AccessReview
Game of Tissues: How the Epidermis Thrones C. elegans Shape
J. Dev. Biol. 2020, 8(1), 7; https://doi.org/10.3390/jdb8010007 - 09 Mar 2020
Abstract
The versatility of epithelial cell structure is universally exploited by organisms in multiple contexts. Epithelial cells can establish diverse polarized axes within their tridimensional structure which enables them to flexibly communicate with their neighbors in a 360° range. Hence, these cells are central [...] Read more.
The versatility of epithelial cell structure is universally exploited by organisms in multiple contexts. Epithelial cells can establish diverse polarized axes within their tridimensional structure which enables them to flexibly communicate with their neighbors in a 360° range. Hence, these cells are central to multicellularity, and participate in diverse biological processes such as organismal development, growth or immune response and their misfunction ultimately impacts disease. During the development of an organism, the first task epidermal cells must complete is the formation of a continuous sheet, which initiates its own morphogenic process. In this review, we will focus on the C. elegans embryonic epithelial morphogenesis. We will describe how its formation, maturation, and spatial arrangements set the final shape of the nematode C. elegans. Special importance will be given to the tissue-tissue interactions, regulatory tissue-tissue feedback mechanisms and the players orchestrating the process. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Caenorhabditis elegans - A Developmental Genetic Model System)
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Open AccessReview
Axin Family of Scaffolding Proteins in Development: Lessons from C. elegans
J. Dev. Biol. 2019, 7(4), 20; https://doi.org/10.3390/jdb7040020 - 15 Oct 2019
Abstract
Scaffold proteins serve important roles in cellular signaling by integrating inputs from multiple signaling molecules to regulate downstream effectors that, in turn, carry out specific biological functions. One such protein, Axin, represents a major evolutionarily conserved scaffold protein in metazoans that participates in [...] Read more.
Scaffold proteins serve important roles in cellular signaling by integrating inputs from multiple signaling molecules to regulate downstream effectors that, in turn, carry out specific biological functions. One such protein, Axin, represents a major evolutionarily conserved scaffold protein in metazoans that participates in the WNT pathway and other pathways to regulate diverse cellular processes. This review summarizes the vast amount of literature on the regulation and functions of the Axin family of genes in eukaryotes, with a specific focus on Caenorhabditis elegans development. By combining early studies with recent findings, the review is aimed to serve as an updated reference for the roles of Axin in C. elegans and other model systems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Caenorhabditis elegans - A Developmental Genetic Model System)
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Open AccessReview
How Weird is The Worm? Evolution of the Developmental Gene Toolkit in Caenorhabditis elegans
J. Dev. Biol. 2019, 7(4), 19; https://doi.org/10.3390/jdb7040019 - 28 Sep 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Comparative developmental biology and comparative genomics are the cornerstones of evolutionary developmental biology. Decades of fruitful research using nematodes have produced detailed accounts of the developmental and genomic variation in the nematode phylum. Evolutionary developmental biologists are now utilising these data as a [...] Read more.
Comparative developmental biology and comparative genomics are the cornerstones of evolutionary developmental biology. Decades of fruitful research using nematodes have produced detailed accounts of the developmental and genomic variation in the nematode phylum. Evolutionary developmental biologists are now utilising these data as a tool with which to interrogate the evolutionary basis for the similarities and differences observed in Nematoda. Nematodes have often seemed atypical compared to the rest of the animal kingdom—from their totally lineage-dependent mode of embryogenesis to their abandonment of key toolkit genes usually deployed by bilaterians for proper development—worms are notorious rule breakers of the bilaterian handbook. However, exploring the nature of these deviations is providing answers to some of the biggest questions about the evolution of animal development. For example, why is the evolvability of each embryonic stage not the same? Why can evolution sometimes tolerate the loss of genes involved in key developmental events? Lastly, why does natural selection act to radically diverge toolkit genes in number and sequence in certain taxa? In answering these questions, insight is not only being provided about the evolution of nematodes, but of all metazoans. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Caenorhabditis elegans - A Developmental Genetic Model System)
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Open AccessFeature PaperReview
Novel Technological Advances in Functional Connectomics in C. elegans
J. Dev. Biol. 2019, 7(2), 8; https://doi.org/10.3390/jdb7020008 - 23 Apr 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
The complete structure and connectivity of the Caenorhabditis elegans nervous system (“mind of a worm”) was first published in 1986, representing a critical milestone in the field of connectomics. The reconstruction of the nervous system (connectome) at the level of synapses provided a [...] Read more.
The complete structure and connectivity of the Caenorhabditis elegans nervous system (“mind of a worm”) was first published in 1986, representing a critical milestone in the field of connectomics. The reconstruction of the nervous system (connectome) at the level of synapses provided a unique perspective of understanding how behavior can be coded within the nervous system. The following decades have seen the development of technologies that help understand how neural activity patterns are connected to behavior and modulated by sensory input. Investigations on the developmental origins of the connectome highlight the importance of role of neuronal cell lineages in the final connectivity matrix of the nervous system. Computational modeling of neuronal dynamics not only helps reconstruct the biophysical properties of individual neurons but also allows for subsequent reconstruction of whole-organism neuronal network models. Hence, combining experimental datasets with theoretical modeling of neurons generates a better understanding of organismal behavior. This review discusses some recent technological advances used to analyze and perturb whole-organism neuronal function along with developments in computational modeling, which allows for interrogation of both local and global neural circuits, leading to different behaviors. Combining these approaches will shed light into how neural networks process sensory information to generate the appropriate behavioral output, providing a complete understanding of the worm nervous system. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Caenorhabditis elegans - A Developmental Genetic Model System)
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Open AccessReview
Regulation of Actin Dynamics in the C. elegans Somatic Gonad
J. Dev. Biol. 2019, 7(1), 6; https://doi.org/10.3390/jdb7010006 - 20 Mar 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
The reproductive system of the hermaphroditic nematode C. elegans consists of a series of contractile cell types—including the gonadal sheath cells, the spermathecal cells and the spermatheca–uterine valve—that contract in a coordinated manner to regulate oocyte entry and exit of the fertilized embryo [...] Read more.
The reproductive system of the hermaphroditic nematode C. elegans consists of a series of contractile cell types—including the gonadal sheath cells, the spermathecal cells and the spermatheca–uterine valve—that contract in a coordinated manner to regulate oocyte entry and exit of the fertilized embryo into the uterus. Contraction is driven by acto-myosin contraction and relies on the development and maintenance of specialized acto-myosin networks in each cell type. Study of this system has revealed insights into the regulation of acto-myosin network assembly and contractility in vivo. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Caenorhabditis elegans - A Developmental Genetic Model System)
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Open AccessReview
The Signaling Network Controlling C. elegans Vulval Cell Fate Patterning
J. Dev. Biol. 2018, 6(4), 30; https://doi.org/10.3390/jdb6040030 - 11 Dec 2018
Cited by 2
Abstract
EGF, emitted by the Anchor Cell, patterns six equipotent C. elegans vulval precursor cells to assume a precise array of three cell fates with high fidelity. A group of core and modulatory signaling cascades forms a signaling network that demonstrates plasticity during the [...] Read more.
EGF, emitted by the Anchor Cell, patterns six equipotent C. elegans vulval precursor cells to assume a precise array of three cell fates with high fidelity. A group of core and modulatory signaling cascades forms a signaling network that demonstrates plasticity during the transition from naïve to terminally differentiated cells. In this review, we summarize the history of classical developmental manipulations and molecular genetics experiments that led to our understanding of the signals governing this process, and discuss principles of signal transduction and developmental biology that have emerged from these studies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Caenorhabditis elegans - A Developmental Genetic Model System)
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Open AccessFeature PaperReview
G Proteins and GPCRs in C. elegans Development: A Story of Mutual Infidelity
J. Dev. Biol. 2018, 6(4), 28; https://doi.org/10.3390/jdb6040028 - 25 Nov 2018
Cited by 1
Abstract
Many vital processes during C. elegans development, especially the establishment and maintenance of cell polarity in embryogenesis, are controlled by complex signaling pathways. G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), such as the four Frizzled family Wnt receptors, are linchpins in regulating and orchestrating several of [...] Read more.
Many vital processes during C. elegans development, especially the establishment and maintenance of cell polarity in embryogenesis, are controlled by complex signaling pathways. G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), such as the four Frizzled family Wnt receptors, are linchpins in regulating and orchestrating several of these mechanisms. However, despite being GPCRs, which usually couple to G proteins, these receptors do not seem to activate classical heterotrimeric G protein-mediated signaling cascades. The view on signaling during embryogenesis is further complicated by the fact that heterotrimeric G proteins do play essential roles in cell polarity during embryogenesis, but their activity is modulated in a predominantly GPCR-independent manner via G protein regulators such as GEFs GAPs and GDIs. Further, the triggered downstream effectors are not typical. Only very few GPCR-dependent and G protein-mediated signaling pathways have been unambiguously defined in this context. This unusual and highly intriguing concept of separating GPCR function and G-protein activity, which is not restricted to embryogenesis in C. elegans but can also be found in other organisms, allows for essential and multi-faceted ways of regulating cellular communication and response. Although its relevance cannot be debated, its impact is still poorly discussed, and C. elegans is an ideal model to understand the underlying principles. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Caenorhabditis elegans - A Developmental Genetic Model System)
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