end-1 Encodes an apparent GATA factor that specifies the endoderm precursor in Caenorhabditis elegans embryos

Jiangwen Zhu, Russell J. Hill, Paul J. Heid, Masamitsu Fukuyama, Asako Sugimoto, James R. Priess, Joel H. Rothman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

178 Citations (Scopus)


The endoderm in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans is clonally derived from the E founder cell. We identified a single genomic region (the endoderm- determining region, or EDR) that is required for the production of the entire C. elegans endoderm. In embryos lacking the EDR, the E cell gives rise to ectoderm and mesoderm instead of endoderm and appears to adopt the fate of its cousin, the C founder cell. end-1, a gene from the EDR, restores endoderm production in EDR deficiency homozygotes. end-1 transcripts are first detectable specifically in the E cell, consistent with a direct role for end- 1 in endoderm development. The END-1 protein is an apparent zinc finger- containing GATA transcription factor. As GATA factors have been implicated in endoderm development in other animals, our findings suggest that endoderm may be specified by molecularly conserved mechanisms in triploblastic animals. We propose that end-1, the first zygotic gene known to be involved in the specification of germ layer and founder cell identity in C. elegans, may link maternal genes that regulate the establishment of the endoderm to downstream genes responsible for endoderm differentiation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2883-2896
Number of pages14
JournalGenes and Development
Issue number21
Publication statusPublished - 1997 Nov 1
Externally publishedYes


  • C. elegans development
  • Deficiencies
  • Endoderm
  • GATA transcription factor
  • Germ layer
  • Wnt signaling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Developmental Biology


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