Matefin, a Caenorhabditis elegans germ line-specific SUN-domain nuclear membrane protein, is essential for early embryonic and germ cell development.


Caenorhabditis elegans mtf-1 encodes matefin, which has a predicted SUN domain, a coiled-coil region, an anti-erbB-2 IgG domain, and two hydrophobic regions. We show that matefin is a nuclear membrane protein that colocalizes in vivo with Ce-lamin, the single nuclear lamin protein in C. elegans, and binds Ce-lamin in vitro but does not require Ce-lamin for its localization. Matefin is detected in all embryonic cells until midembryogenesis and thereafter only in germ-line cells. Embryonic matefin is maternally deposited, and matefin is the first nuclear membrane protein known to have germ line-restricted expression. Animals homozygous for an mtf-1 deletion allele show that matefin is essential for germ line maturation and survival. However, matefin is also required for embryogenesis because mtf-1 (RNAi) embryos die around the approximately 300-cell stage with defects in nuclear structure, DNA content, and chromatin morphology. Down-regulating matefin in mes-3 animals only slightly enhances embryonic lethality, and elimination of UNC-84, the only other SUN-domain gene in C. elegans, has no affect on mtf-1 (RNAi) animals. Thus, mtf-1 mediates a previously uncharacterized pathway(s) required for embryogenesis as well as germ line proliferation or survival.

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