A Caltech Library Service

Pattern formation during Caenorhabditis Elegans vulval development


Wang, Minqin (2000) Pattern formation during Caenorhabditis Elegans vulval development. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/j9v8-2z18.


Pattern formation during animal development involves at least three processes: establishment of the competence of precursor cells to respond to intercellular signals, formation of a pattern of different cell fates adopted by precursor cells, and execution of the cell fate by generating a pattern of distinct descendants from precursor cells. I have analyzed the fundamental mechanisms of pattern formation by studying the development of Caenorhabditis elegans vulva.

In C. elegans, six multipotential vulval precursor cells (VPCs) are competent to respond to an inductive signal LIN-3 (EGF) mediated by LET- 23 (RTK) and a lateral signal via LIN-12 (Notch) to form a fixed pattern of 3°-3°-2°-1°-2°-3°. Results from expressing LIN-3 as a function of time in animals lacking endogenous LIN-3 indicate that both VPCs and VPC daughters are competent to respond to LIN-3. Although the daughters of VPCs specified to be 2° or 3° can be redirected to adopt the 1°fate, the decision to adopt the 1° fate is irreversible. Coupling of VPC competence to cell cycle progression reveals that VPC competence may be periodic during each cell cycle and involve LIN-39 (HOM-C). These mechanisms are essential to ensure a bias towards the 1° fate, while preventing an excessive response.

After adopting the 1° fate, the VPC executes its fate by dividing three rounds to form a fixed pattern of four inner vulF and four outer vulE descendants. These two types of descendants can be distinguished by a molecular marker zmp-1::GFP. A short-range signal from the anchor cell (AC), along with signaling between the inner and outer 1° VPC descendants and intrinsic polarity of 1° VPC daughters, patterns the 1° lineage. The Ras and the Wnt signaling pathways may be involved in these mechanisms.

The temporal expression pattern of egl-17::GFP, another marker ofthe 1° fate, correlates with three different steps of 1° fate execution: the commitment to the 1° fate, as well as later steps before and after establishment of the uterine-vulval connection. Six transcription factors, including LIN-1(ETS), LIN-39 (HOM-C), LIN-11(LIM), LIN-29 (zinc finger), COG-1 (homeobox) and EGL-38 (PAX2/5/8), are involved in different steps during 1° fate execution.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:Biology
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Major Option:Biology
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Sternberg, Paul W.
Thesis Committee:
  • Anderson, David J.
  • Davidson, Eric H.
  • Deshaies, Raymond Joseph
  • Fraser, Scott E.
  • Lewis, Edward B.
  • Meyerowitz, Elliot M.
Defense Date:18 May 2000
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:10082013-155308536
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:7977
Deposited On:09 Oct 2013 14:31
Last Modified:09 Nov 2022 19:19

Thesis Files

PDF - Final Version
See Usage Policy.


Repository Staff Only: item control page