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      Analysis of the Caenorhabditis elegans axonal guidance and outgrowth gene unc-33.


      genetics, RNA, Messenger, metabolism, Nerve Growth Factors, Mutation, Molecular Sequence Data, physiology, Microtubules, Helminth Proteins, Genes, Gene Expression, Exons, Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins, Caenorhabditis elegans, Base Sequence, Axons, Animals, Amino Acid Sequence

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          Mutations in the unc-33 gene of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans lead to severely uncoordinated movement, abnormalities in the guidance and outgrowth of the axons of many neurons, and a superabundance of microtubules in neuronal processes. We have cloned unc-33 by tagging the gene with the transposable element Tc4. Three unc-33 messages, which are transcribed from a genomic region of at least 10 kb, were identified and characterized. The three messages have common 3' ends and identical reading frames. The largest (3.8-kb) message consists of the 22-nucleotide trans-spliced leader SL1 and 10 exons (I-X); the intermediate-size (3.3-kb) message begins with SL1 spliced to the 5' end of exon V and includes exons V-X; and the smallest (2.8-kb) message begins within exon VII and also includes exons VIII-X. A gamma-ray-induced deletion mutation situated within exon VIII reduces the sizes of all three messages by 0.5 kb. The three putative polypeptides encoded by the three messages overlap in C-terminal sequence but differ by the positions at which their N termini begin; none has significant similarity to any other known protein. A Tc4 insertion in exon VII leads to alterations in splicing that result in three approximately wild-type-size messages: the Tc4 sequence and 28 additional nucleotides are spliced out of the two larger messages; the Tc4 sequence is trans-spliced off the smallest message such that SL1 is added 13 nucleotides upstream of the normal 5' end of the smallest message.

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