In Caenorhabditis elegans, heterochronic genes constitute a developmental timer that specifies temporal cell fate selection. The heterochronic gene lin-42 is the C. elegans homolog of Drosophila and mammalian period, key regulators of circadian rhythms, which specify changes in behavior and physiology over a 24 hr day/night cycle. We show a role for two other circadian gene homologs, tim-1 and kin-20, in the developmental timer. Along with lin-42, tim-1 and kin-20, the C. elegans homologs of the Drosophila circadian clock genes timeless and doubletime, respectively, are required to maintain late-larval identity and prevent premature expression of adult cell fates. The molecular parallels between circadian and developmental timing pathways suggest the existence of a conserved molecular mechanism that may be used for different types of biological timing.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Developmental Biology
- Cell Biology