Similarity of the C. elegans Developmental Timing Protein LIN-42 to Circadian Rhythm Proteins

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Science  05 Nov 1999:
Vol. 286, Issue 5442, pp. 1141-1146
DOI: 10.1126/science.286.5442.1141

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The Caenorhabditis elegans heterochronic genes control the relative timing and sequence of many events during postembryonic development, including the terminal differentiation of the lateral hypodermis, which occurs during the final (fourth) molt. Inactivation of the heterochronic gene lin-42 causes hypodermal terminal differentiation to occur precociously, during the third molt. LIN-42 most closely resembles the Period family of proteins fromDrosophila and other organisms, proteins that function in another type of biological timing mechanism: the timing of circadian rhythms. Per mRNA levels oscillate with an approximately 24-hour periodicity. lin-42 mRNA levels also oscillate, but with a faster rhythm; the oscillation occurs relative to the approximately 6-hour molting cycles of postembryonic development.

  • * These authors contributed equally to this work.

  • Present address: Department of Epidemiology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA.

  • Present address: Department of Biology, University of Wisconsin, River Falls, WI 54022, USA.

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