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Gene Review

mab-5  -  Protein MAB-5

Caenorhabditis elegans

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High impact information on mab-5

  • The activities of cell signals and pal-1 appear to influence V cell fates by determining the state of a developmental switch that involves two homeotic genes, lin-22 and mab-5 [1].
  • This suggests that mab-5 influences cell differentiation and cell migration by regulating gene expression, and clearly demonstrates that genes containing homeoboxes influence global aspects of pattern formation in organisms other than Drosophila [2].
  • We find that the pattern of fates specified by mab-5 not only depends on mab-5 expression but also on post-translational interactions with the neighboring HOM-C gene lin-39 and a second, inferred gene activity [3].
  • We show here that in the P11 lineage, a complex between MAB-5 and the Pbx homolog CEH-20 directly regulates transcription of the BH3 domain gene egl-1 to initiate programmed cell death; in the P12 lineage, mab-5 and ceh-20 apparently act indirectly to initiate programmed cell death [4].
  • In the nematode C. elegans, the Hox gene mab-5 is required for the programmed cell deaths of two lineally related cells generated in the P11 and P12 lineages [4].

Biological context of mab-5

  • Within the posterior body region, mab-5 activity controls epidermal, neuronal, and mesodermal cell differentiation, and also the direction of cell migration [2].
  • This suggests that posterior-specific expression of mab-5 depends on the appropriate segregation of developmental factors during early embryogenesis [5].
  • We find that the C. elegans Antennapedia homolog, mab-5, sequentially programs many independent events within individual cell lineages [6].
  • Mutations in the homeotic gene Ppa-mab-5 cause severe misspecification of the M lineage, resembling more the C. elegans Twist than the mab-5 phenotype [7].
  • In C. elegans, two Hox genes, lin-39 and mab-5, control the cell fusion decision of the 12 ventrally located Pn.p cells [8].

Anatomical context of mab-5

  • In these partial embryos, however, the fusion was often expressed in cells scattered throughout the embryo, suggesting that cell-cell interactions and/or proper positioning of early blastomeres are required for mab-5 expression to be localized to the posterior [5].
  • By examining the M lineage and its differentiation products in different Hox mutant combinations, we found an essential but overlapping role for two of the Hox cluster genes, lin-39 and mab-5, in diversification of the postembryonic mesoderm [9].
  • Furthermore, if lin-39 is replaced with the posterior Hox gene mab-5, then posterior structures are induced instead of a vulva [10].
  • Expression of LIN-32 is spatially restricted by the combined action of the Hox gene mab-5 and the hairy homolog lin-22, while MAB-3 is expressed throughout the lateral hypodermis [11].
  • Mutations in the C. elegans gene egl-27 cause defects in cell polarity and cell migration: the polarity of the asymmetric T cell division is disrupted and the descendants of the migratory QL neuroblast migrate incorrectly because they fail to express the Hox gene mab-5 [12].

Regulatory relationships of mab-5

  • In anterior body regions, lin-22(+) inhibits expression of the Hox gene mab-5 [13].
  • Unexpectedly, the lack of cell-cell contacts does not prevent a unique seam cell to produce a neuroblast, even though a homeotic gene (mab-5) that normally prevents the neuroblast commitment is ectopically expressed in the absence of nhr-25 function [14].

Other interactions of mab-5

  • Here we report that egl-20, a C. elegans gene required to activate expression of the Hox gene mab-5 in the migratory neuroblast QL, encodes a member of the Wnt family of secreted glycoproteins [15].
  • We have found that a second Wnt pathway gene, bar-1, which encodes a beta-catenin/Armadillo-like protein, is also required for activation of mab-5 expression in QL [15].
  • The Caenorhabditis elegans lin-39, mab-5 and egl-5 Hox genes specify cell fates along the anterior-posterior body axis of the nematode during postembryonic development, but little is known about Hox gene functions during embryogenesis [16].
  • We find that ceh-7 is not expressed in egl-5 mutants, but is still expressed in mab-5 mutants [17].
  • These blocked embryos remain viable for days and express a number of biochemical markers of early differentiation, for example, gut granules, the gut esterase ges-1, and two regulatory genes, mab-5 and hlh-1 [18].


  1. Selective silencing of cell communication influences anteroposterior pattern formation in C. elegans. Waring, D.A., Kenyon, C. Cell (1990) [Pubmed]
  2. Posterior pattern formation in C. elegans involves position-specific expression of a gene containing a homeobox. Costa, M., Weir, M., Coulson, A., Sulston, J., Kenyon, C. Cell (1988) [Pubmed]
  3. Multiple HOM-C gene interactions specify cell fates in the nematode central nervous system. Salser, S.J., Loer, C.M., Kenyon, C. Genes Dev. (1993) [Pubmed]
  4. Direct regulation of egl-1 and of programmed cell death by the Hox protein MAB-5 and by CEH-20, a C. elegans homolog of Pbx1. Liu, H., Strauss, T.J., Potts, M.B., Cameron, S. Development (2006) [Pubmed]
  5. Expression of the homeotic gene mab-5 during Caenorhabditis elegans embryogenesis. Cowing, D.W., Kenyon, C. Development (1992) [Pubmed]
  6. A C. elegans Hox gene switches on, off, on and off again to regulate proliferation, differentiation and morphogenesis. Salser, S.J., Kenyon, C. Development (1996) [Pubmed]
  7. Formation of the egg-laying system in Pristionchus pacificus requires complex interactions between gonadal, mesodermal and epidermal tissues and does not rely on single cell inductions. Jungblut, B., Pires-daSilva, A., Sommer, R.J. Development (2001) [Pubmed]
  8. REF-1, a protein with two bHLH domains, alters the pattern of cell fusion in C. elegans by regulating Hox protein activity. Alper, S., Kenyon, C. Development (2001) [Pubmed]
  9. Overlapping roles of two Hox genes and the exd ortholog ceh-20 in diversification of the C. elegans postembryonic mesoderm. Liu, J., Fire, A. Development (2000) [Pubmed]
  10. The Hox gene lin-39 is required during C. elegans vulval induction to select the outcome of Ras signaling. Maloof, J.N., Kenyon, C. Development (1998) [Pubmed]
  11. Mab-3 is a direct tra-1 target gene regulating diverse aspects of C. elegans male sexual development and behavior. Yi, W., Ross, J.M., Zarkower, D. Development (2000) [Pubmed]
  12. EGL-27 is similar to a metastasis-associated factor and controls cell polarity and cell migration in C. elegans. Herman, M.A., Ch'ng, Q., Hettenbach, S.M., Ratliff, T.M., Kenyon, C., Herman, R.K. Development (1999) [Pubmed]
  13. The role of lin-22, a hairy/enhancer of split homolog, in patterning the peripheral nervous system of C. elegans. Wrischnik, L.A., Kenyon, C.J. Development (1997) [Pubmed]
  14. Nuclear receptor NHR-25 is required for cell-shape dynamics during epidermal differentiation in Caenorhabditis elegans. Silhánková, M., Jindra, M., Asahina, M. J. Cell. Sci. (2005) [Pubmed]
  15. A Wnt signaling pathway controls hox gene expression and neuroblast migration in C. elegans. Maloof, J.N., Whangbo, J., Harris, J.M., Jongeward, G.D., Kenyon, C. Development (1999) [Pubmed]
  16. Anterior organization of the Caenorhabditis elegans embryo by the labial-like Hox gene ceh-13. Brunschwig, K., Wittmann, C., Schnabel, R., Bürglin, T.R., Tobler, H., Müller, F. Development (1999) [Pubmed]
  17. A Caenorhabditis elegans homeobox gene expressed in the male tail, a link between pattern formation and sexual dimorphism? Kagoshima, H., Cassata, G., Bürglin, T.R. Dev. Genes Evol. (1999) [Pubmed]
  18. DNA-protein interactions in the Caenorhabditis elegans embryo: oocyte and embryonic factors that bind to the promoter of the gut-specific ges-1 gene. Stroeher, V.L., Kennedy, B.P., Millen, K.J., Schroeder, D.F., Hawkins, M.G., Goszczynski, B., McGhee, J.D. Dev. Biol. (1994) [Pubmed]
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