Presenter: Edward E. Large
Advisor(s): Laura Mathies
Author(s): Edward E. Large
Graduate Program: Genetics

Title: Duplication and divergence of an Ikaros-like C2H2 zinc finger protein family controlling gonadogenesis in C. elegans

Abstract: Gene duplication and divergence is a driving force of evolutionary change. Whole genome sequencing has begun to reveal the frequency of duplicate genes in various organisms. Although an estimated 30-60% of eukaryotic genes are the result of duplications many have not been molecularly or functionally characterized. In this study we examine the duplication and divergence of the R08E3.4 family of C2H2 zinc finger proteins in two nematodes, Caenorhabditis briggsae and Caenorhabditis elegans. R08E3.4 is highly conserved in nematodes and is most similar to the vertebrate Ikaros family of transcription factors. The C. briggsae genome contains a single copy of R08E3.4 (Cb-R08E3.4), while the C. elegans genome contains a single R08E3.4 gene (Ce-R08E3.4), which has duplicated to generate four additional genes. One of the duplicates, ehn-3 (enhancer of hand), controls development of the reproductive organs; the other duplicates have no known function. Preliminary results indicate ehn-3 has acquired new functions in C. elegans distinct from the functions of R08E3.4 in C. elegans and C. briggsae. Ce-ehn-3 appears to have acquired these functions through changes in its cis-regulation. We report the functional and molecular characterization of R08E3.4 family members in C. elegans and C. briggsae.