A regulatory network of T-box genes and the even-skipped homologue vab-7 controls patterning and morphogenesis in C. elegans

Roger Pocock, Julie Ahringer, Michael Mitsch, Sara Maxwell, Alison Woollard

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31 Citations (Scopus)


T-box genes form a large family of conserved transcription factors with diverse roles in animal development, but so far functions for only a few have been studied in detail. Here we show that four Caenorhabditis elegans T-box genes and the even-skipped-like homeobox gene vab-7 function within a regulatory network to control embryonic patterning and morphogenesis. tbx-8 and tbx-9 have functionally redundant roles in the intercalation of posterior dorsal hypodermal cells, in muscle cell positioning and in intestinal development. Inhibiting tbx-9 alone using RNA interference (RNAi) produces worms that have a thickened, 'bobbed tail' phenotype, similar to that seen in mutants of vab-7, which itself has been shown to pattern posterior muscle and hypodermal cells. In support of the view that these genes function in the same pathway, we find that tbx-8 and tbx-9 are both necessary and sufficient for vab-7 expression. In addition, a third T-box gene, tbx-30, acts to repress vab-7 expression in the anterior of embryos. We further show that vab-7 itself represses the T-box gene mab-9 in posterior cells. Thus, during posterior patterning in C. elegans, there are multiple interactions between T-box genes and the vab-7 homeobox gene. Evolutionary parallels in other organisms suggest that regulatory interactions between T-box genes and even-skipped homologues are conserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2373-2385
Number of pages13
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - May 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Caenorhabditis elegans
  • Dorsal intercalation
  • Evenskipped
  • T-box genes

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