How sexual regulators translate global sexual fate into appropriate local sexual differentiation events is perhaps the least understood aspect of sexual development. Here we have used Chromatin Immunoprecipitation followed by deep sequencing (ChIP-seq) to identify direct targets of the nematode global sexual regulator TRA-1, a transcription factor acting at the interface between organism-wide and cell-specific sexual regulation to control all sex-specific somatic differentiation events. We identified 184 TRA-1 binding sites in Caenorhabditis elegans, many with temporal- and/or tissue-specific TRA-1 association. We also identified 78 TRA-1 binding sites in the related nematode C. briggsae, 19 of which are conserved between the two species. Some DNA segments containing TRA-1 binding sites drive male-specific expression patterns, and RNAi depletion of some genes adjacent to TRA-1 binding sites results in defects in male sexual development. TRA-1 binds to sites adjacent to a number of heterochronic regulatory genes, some of which drive male-specific expression, suggesting that TRA-1 imposes sex specificity on developmental timing. We also found evidence for TRA-1 feedback regulation of the global sex- determination pathway: TRA-1 binds its own locus and those of multiple upstream masculinizing genes, and most of these associations are conserved in C. briggsae. Thus TRA-1 coordinates sexual development by reinforcing the sex determination decision and directing downstream sexual differentiation events.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. December 2013. Major: Molecular, Cellular, Developmental Biology and Genetics. Advisor: David Zarkower. 1 computer file (PDF); iv, 115 pages.
Berkseth, Matthew Robert.
Control of Caenorhabditis elegans sexual development by TRA-1 and its targets.
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