Misexpression of acetylcholinesterases in the C. elegans pha-2 mutant accompanies ultrastructural defects in pharyngeal muscle cells
Journal article, 2006
pha-2 is the Caenorhabditis elegans homolog of the vertebrate homeobox gene Hex. Embryonic expression of pha-2 is mostly pharyngeal and the only described mutant allele of pha-2 results in a severe pharyngeal defect in which certain muscle cells (pm5 cells) and neurons are grossly deformed. Here, we performed a detailed characterization of the pha-2 phenotype using cell-type-specific reporters, physical manipulation of the nuclei in pharyngeal muscle cells using optical "tweezers", electron microscopy, staining of the actin cytoskeleton as well as phenotypic rescue and ectopic expression experiments. The main findings of the present study are (i) the pha-2 (ad472) mutation specifically impairs the pharyngeal expression of pha-2; (ii) in the pha-2 mutant, the cytoskeleton of the pm5 cells is measurably weaker than in normal cells and is severely disrupted by large tubular structures and organelles; (iii) the pm5 cells of the pha-2 mutant fail to express the acetylcholinesterase genes ace-1 and ace-2; (iv) ectopic expression of pha-2 can induce ectopic expression of ace-1 and ace-2; and (v) the anc-1 mutant with mislocalized pm5 cell nuclei occasionally shows an isthmus phenotype similar to that of pha-2 worms.