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Independent recruitments of a translational regulator in the evolution of self-fertile nematodes.

Authors
  • Beadell, Alana V
  • Liu, Qinwen
  • Johnson, Dorothy M
  • Haag, Eric S
Type
Published Article
Journal
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Publisher
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Publication Date
Dec 06, 2011
Volume
108
Issue
49
Pages
19672–19677
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1108068108
PMID: 22106259
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

Pleiotropic developmental regulators have been repeatedly linked to the evolution of anatomical novelties. Known mechanisms include cis-regulatory DNA changes that alter regulator transcription patterns or modify target-gene linkages. Here, we examine the role of another form of regulation, translational control, in the repeated evolution of self-fertile hermaphroditism in Caenorhabditis nematodes. Caenorhabditis elegans hermaphrodites initiate spermatogenesis in an otherwise female body through translational repression of the gene tra-2. This repression is mediated by GLD-1, an RNA-binding protein also required for oocyte meiosis and differentiation. By contrast, we show that in the convergently hermaphroditic Caenorhabditis briggsae, GLD-1 acts to promote oogenesis. The opposite functions of gld-1 in these species are not gene-intrinsic, but instead result from the unique contexts for its action that evolved in each. In C. elegans, GLD-1 became essential for promoting XX spermatogenesis via changes in the tra-2 mRNA and evolution of the species-specific protein FOG-2. C. briggsae GLD-1 became an essential repressor of sperm-promoting genes, including Cbr-puf-8, and did not evolve a strong association with tra-2. Despite its variable roles in sex determination, the function of gld-1 in female meiotic progression is ancient and conserved. This conserved role may explain why gld-1 is repeatedly recruited to regulate hermaphroditism. We conclude that, as with transcription factors, spatially localized translational regulators play important roles in the evolution of anatomical novelties.

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