The transcription factor HLH-2/E/Daughterless regulates anchor cell invasion across basement membrane in C. elegans.
Cell invasion through basement membrane is a specialized cellular behavior critical for many developmental processes and leukocyte trafficking. Invasive cellular behavior is also inappropriately co-opted during cancer progression. Acquisition of an invasive phenotype is accompanied by changes in gene expression that are thought to coordinate the steps of invasion. The transcription factors responsible for these changes in gene expression, however, are largely unknown. C. elegans anchor cell (AC) invasion is a genetically tractable in vivo model of invasion through basement membrane. AC invasion requires the conserved transcription factor FOS-1A, but other transcription factors are thought to act in parallel to FOS-1A to control invasion. Here we identify the transcription factor HLH-2, the C. elegans ortholog of Drosophila Daughterless and vertebrate E proteins, as a regulator of AC invasion. Reduction of HLH-2 function by RNAi or with a hypomorphic allele causes defects in AC invasion. Genetic analysis indicates that HLH-2 has functions outside of the FOS-1A pathway. Using expression analysis, we identify three genes that are transcriptionally regulated by HLH-2: the protocadherin cdh-3, and two genes encoding secreted extracellular matrix proteins, mig-6/papilin and him-4/hemicentin. Further, we show that reduction of HLH-2 function causes defects in polarization of F-actin to the invasive cell membrane, a process required for the AC to generate protrusions that breach the basement membrane. This work identifies HLH-2 as a regulator of the invasive phenotype in the AC, adding to our understanding of the transcriptional networks that control cell invasion.
Schindler, AJ; Sherwood, DR
Volume / Issue
Start / End Page
Pubmed Central ID
Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)
International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)