Translational Regulators Maintain Totipotency in the Caenorhabditis elegans Germline

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Science  10 Feb 2006:
Vol. 311, Issue 5762, pp. 851-853
DOI: 10.1126/science.1122491

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The molecular mechanisms that maintain totipotency of the germline are not well understood. Here, we show that two conserved translational regulators, MEX-3 and GLD-1, are essential for maintaining totipotency in the Caenorhabditis elegans germline. In mex-3 gld-1 mutants, germ cells transdifferentiate into various somatic cell types such as muscles or neurons. Our findings implicate RNA regulation in the maintenance of totipotency, suggest that multiple mechanisms maintain totipotency at different stages of germline development, and establish a genetically tractable model for studying the development of teratomas.

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