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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Vulva morphogenesis involves attraction of plexin 1-expressing primordial vulva cells to semaphorin 1a sequentially expressed at the vulva midline.

Vulva development in C. elegans involves cell fate specification followed by a morphogenesis phase in which homologous mirror image pairs within a linear array of primordial vulva cells form a crescent shape as they move sequentially towards a midline position within the array. The homologous pairs from opposite half vulvae in fixed sequence fuse with one another at their leading tips to form ring-shaped (toroidal) cells stacked in precise alignment one atop the other. Here, we show that the semaphorin 1a SMP-1, and its plexin receptor PLX-1, are required for the movement of homologous pairs of vulva cells towards this midline position. SMP-1 is upregulated on the lumen membrane of each primordial vulva cell as it enters the forming vulva and apparently attracts the next flanking homologous PLX-1-expressing vulva cells towards the lumen surface of the ring. Consequently, a new ring-shaped cell forms immediately ventral to the previously formed ring. This smp-1- and plx-1-dependent process repeats until seven rings are stacked along the dorsoventral axis, creating a common vulva lumen. Ectopic expression of SMP-1 suggests it has an instructive role in vulva cell migration. At least two parallel acting pathways are required for vulva formation: one requires SMP-1, PLX-1 and CED-10; and another requires the MIG-2 Rac GTPase and its putative activator UNC-73.[1]


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