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Gene Review

ges-1  -  Protein GES-1

Caenorhabditis elegans

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High impact information on carboxylesterase

  • With particular deletions, ges-1 was expressed, not as normally in the gut, but rather in muscle cells of the pharynx (which belong to a sister lineage of the gut) or in body wall muscle and hypodermal cells (which belong to a cousin lineage of the gut) [1].
  • Using such a deleted ges-1 transgene as a biochemical marker of differentiation, we have investigated the basis of anterior-posterior gut patterning in C. elegans [2].
  • In particular, the gut esterase ges-1 gene, which is normally expressed in all cells of the endoderm, is expressed only in the anterior-most gut cells when certain sequences in the ges-1 promoter are deleted [2].
  • However, there is as yet no direct evidence that elt-2 does or does not control ges-1 [3].
  • We have previously shown that a tandem pair of (A/T)GATA(A/G) sequences in the promoter region of the Caenorhabditis elegans gut esterase gene (ges-1) controls the tissue specificity of ges-1 expression in vivo [3].

Biological context of carboxylesterase

  • For example, the C. elegans ges-1 5'-flanking region (as well as several introns) contains copies of three different SINE-like sequences, previously identified near the hsp-16 genes, near the unc-22 gene and in a repetitive element CeRep-3; none of these elements are found in the C. briggsae ges-1 gene [4].
  • However, multiple copies of the GATA region are not able to repress the heat-induced expression of an hsp16-lacZ reporter gene, suggesting that the pharynx/tail repression mechanism is specific to the ges-1 environment [5].
  • We use sequence alignments and subsequent deletions to identify a region at the 3'-end of both Ce-ges-1 and Ce-ges-1 that acts as the ges-1 cryptic pharynx enhancer whose activity is revealed by removal of the 5' WGATAR sites [6].
  • The multiple facets of ges-1 expression provide an opportunity to investigate how a multicomponent organ system such as the digestive tract is established from diverse cell lineages [7].
  • In the present paper, we show that elt-2 expression is completely gut specific, beginning when the embryonic gut has only two cells (one cell cycle prior to ges-1 expression) and continuing in every cell of the gut throughout the life of the worm [8].

Anatomical context of carboxylesterase

  • We propose that, in the pharynx (and rectum), PHA-4 is normally bound to the ges-1 3'-enhancer sequence but that the activation function of PHA-4 is kept repressed by a (presently unknown) factor binding in the vicinity of the 5' WGATAR sites [6].
  • Factors that bind to double-stranded oligonucleotides containing the ges-1 GATA sequences are present predominantly in nuclear extracts of embryos but are found neither in cytoplasmic nor in nuclear extracts of unfertilized oocytes [9].
  • Here, we use both laser ablation experiments and genetic analysis to show that cells expressing the WGATAR-deleted ges-1 transgene belong to all three nongut lineages of the digestive tract: ABa, MS, and ABp [7].

Physical interactions of carboxylesterase

  • We suggest that neither the elt-1 protein nor the skn-1 protein interacts directly with the ges-1 gene and that the observed binding proteins must correspond to products of other genes [9].

Other interactions of carboxylesterase

  • The ges-1 esterases from the two nematodes are 83% identical at the amino acid level and contain regions of significant similarity to insect and mammalian esterases; these conserved regions can be identified with residues believed to be necessary for esterase function [4].
  • However, we show that homozygous deficiency embryos (mDf7/mDf7 embryos and eDf19/eDf19 embryos, both of which lack the elt-1 gene, and nDf41/nDf41 embryos, which have no skn-1 gene), still express the ges-1 esterase [9].
  • The gut esterase locus, denoted ges-1, maps less than 0.3 map units to the right of the unc-60 locus, at the left end of chromosome V [10].
  • Moreover, the pharynx/tail expression of the WGATAR-deleted ges-1 transgene is abolished by mutations in the zygotic gene pha-4 [7].
  • The gene was mapped close to the center of chromosome V (1.7 centimorgans to the left of dpy-11) and is therefore distinct from the gut esterase gene ges-1 [11].

Analytical, diagnostic and therapeutic context of carboxylesterase

  • We have used isoelectric focusing analysis to demonstrate that, unlike the C. elegans ges-1 esterase, the A. suum enzyme is not restricted to the gut but is expressed in a wide range of tissues [12].


  1. Spatial control of gut-specific gene expression during Caenorhabditis elegans development. Aamodt, E.J., Chung, M.A., McGhee, J.D. Science (1991) [Pubmed]
  2. Anterior-posterior patterning within the Caenorhabditis elegans endoderm. Schroeder, D.F., McGhee, J.D. Development (1998) [Pubmed]
  3. elt-2, a second GATA factor from the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. Hawkins, M.G., McGhee, J.D. J. Biol. Chem. (1995) [Pubmed]
  4. The gut esterase gene (ges-1) from the nematodes Caenorhabditis elegans and Caenorhabditis briggsae. Kennedy, B.P., Aamodt, E.J., Allen, F.L., Chung, M.A., Heschl, M.F., McGhee, J.D. J. Mol. Biol. (1993) [Pubmed]
  5. A gut-to-pharynx/tail switch in embryonic expression of the Caenorhabditis elegans ges-1 gene centers on two GATA sequences. Egan, C.R., Chung, M.A., Allen, F.L., Heschl, M.F., Van Buskirk, C.L., McGhee, J.D. Dev. Biol. (1995) [Pubmed]
  6. Coordination of ges-1 expression between the Caenorhabditis pharynx and intestine. Marshall, S.D., McGhee, J.D. Dev. Biol. (2001) [Pubmed]
  7. Modulation of gene expression in the embryonic digestive tract of C. elegans. Fukushige, T., Schroeder, D.F., Allen, F.L., Goszczynski, B., McGhee, J.D. Dev. Biol. (1996) [Pubmed]
  8. The GATA-factor elt-2 is essential for formation of the Caenorhabditis elegans intestine. Fukushige, T., Hawkins, M.G., McGhee, J.D. Dev. Biol. (1998) [Pubmed]
  9. 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]
  10. The major gut esterase locus in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. McGhee, J.D., Cottrell, D.A. Mol. Gen. Genet. (1986) [Pubmed]
  11. cDNA sequence, gene structure, and cholinesterase-like domains of an esterase from Caenorhabditis elegans mapped to chromosome V. Fedon, Y., Cousin, X., Toutant, J.P., Thierry-Mieg, D., Arpagaus, M. DNA Seq. (1993) [Pubmed]
  12. A carboxylesterase from the parasitic nematode Ascaris suum homologous to the intestinal-specific ges-1 esterase of Caenorhabditis elegans. Azzaria, M., Henzel, W.J., McGhee, J.D. Comp. Biochem. Physiol. B, Biochem. Mol. Biol. (1994) [Pubmed]
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