Scientific reports

New genetic regulators question relevance of abundant yolk protein production in C. elegans.

PMID 26553710


Vitellogenesis or maternal yolk formation is considered critical to the reproduction of egg-laying animals. In invertebrates, however, most of its regulatory genes are still unknown. Via a combined mapping and whole-genome sequencing strategy, we performed a forward genetic screen to isolate novel regulators of yolk production in the nematode model system Caenorhabditis elegans. In addition to isolating new alleles of rab-35, rab-10 and M04F3.2, we identified five mutant alleles corresponding to three novel regulatory genes potently suppressing the expression of a GFP-based yolk reporter. We confirmed that mutations in vrp-1, ceh-60 and lrp-2 disrupt endogenous yolk protein synthesis at the transcriptional and translational level. In contrast to current beliefs, our discovered set of mutants with strongly reduced yolk proteins did not show serious reproduction defects. This raises questions as to whether yolk proteins per se are needed for ultimate reproductive success.