Roles for βpat-3 Integrins in Development and Function of Caenorhabditis elegans Muscles and Gonads

Myeongwoo Lee, Erin J. Cram, Bing Shen, Jean E. Schwarzbauer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations


Heterodimeric integrin receptors for extracellular matrix (ECM) play vital roles in bidirectional signaling during tissue development, organization, remodeling, and repair. The β integrin subunit cytoplasmic domain is essential for transmission of many of these signals and overexpression of an unpaired β tail in cultured cells inhibits endogenous integrins. Unlike vertebrates, which have at least nine β subunit genes, the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans expresses only one β subunit (βpat-3), and a null mutation in this gene causes embryonic lethality. To determine the functions of integrins during larval development and in adult tissues, we have taken a dominant negative approach by expression of an HA-βtail transgene composed of a hemagglutinin (HA) epitope tag extracellular domain connected to the βpat-3 transmembrane and cytoplasmic domains. Expression of this transgene in muscle and gonad, major sites of integrin expression, caused a variety of pheno-types dependent on the level of transgene expression. Abnormalities in body wall and sex muscles led to uncoordinated movement and egg-laying defects. Significant anomalies in migration and pathfinding were caused by tissue-specific expression of HA-βtail in the distal tip cells (DTC), the cells that direct gonad morphogenesis. A pat-3 gene with Tyr to Phe mutations in the cytoplasmic domain was able to rescue pat-3 null animals but also showed DTC migration defects. These results show that βpat-3 plays important roles in post-embryonic organogenesis and tissue function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)36404-36410
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number39
StatePublished - Sep 28 2001

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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