Transdifferentiation and remodeling of post-embryonic C. elegans cells by a single transcription factor.

TitleTransdifferentiation and remodeling of post-embryonic C. elegans cells by a single transcription factor.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsRiddle MR, Weintraub A, Nguyen KCQ, Hall DH, Rothman JH
Date Published2013 Dec
KeywordsAnimals, Caenorhabditis elegans, Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins, Cell Lineage, Cell Transdifferentiation, GATA Transcription Factors, Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental, Intestines, Pharynx

Terminally differentiated post-mitotic cells are generally considered irreversibly developmentally locked, i.e. incapable of being reprogrammed in vivo into entirely different cell types. We found that brief expression of a single transcription factor, the ELT-7 GATA factor, can convert the identity of fully differentiated, highly specialized non-endodermal cells of the pharynx into fully differentiated intestinal cells in intact larvae and adult Caenorhabditis elegans. Stable expression of intestine-specific molecular markers parallels loss of markers for the original differentiated pharynx state; hence, there is no apparent requirement for a dedifferentiated intermediate during the transdifferentiation process. Based on high-resolution morphological characteristics, the transdifferentiated cells become remodeled to resemble typical intestinal cells at the level of both the cell surface and internal organelles. Thus, post-mitotic cells, though terminally differentiated, remain plastic to transdifferentiation across germ layer lineage boundaries and can be remodeled to adopt the characteristics of a new cell identity without removal of inhibitory factors. Our findings establish a simple model to investigate how cell context influences forced transdifferentiation of mature cells.

Alternate JournalDevelopment
PubMed ID24257624
PubMed Central IDPMC3848185
Grant ListHD062922 / HD / NICHD NIH HHS / United States
OD010943 / OD / NIH HHS / United States
R24 OD010943 / OD / NIH HHS / United States