Embryonic handedness choice in C. elegans involves the Gα protein GPA-16

Dominique C. Bergmann, Monica Lee, Barbara Robertson, Meng Fu B Tsou, Lesilee S. Rose, William B. Wood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


The mechanism by which polarity of the left-right (LR) axis is initially established with the correct handedness is not understood for any embryo. C. elegans embryos exhibit LR asymmetry with an invariant handedness that is first apparent at the six-cell stage and persists throughout development. We show here that a strong loss-of-function mutation in a gene originally designated spn-1 affects early spindle orientations and results in near randomization of handedness choice. This mutation interacts genetically with mutations in three par genes that encode localized cortical components. We show that the spn-1 gene encodes the Gα protein GPA-16, which appears to be required for centrosomal association of a Gβ protein. We will henceforth refer to this gene as gpa-16. These results demonstrate for the first time involvement of heterotrimeric G proteins in establishment of embryonic LR asymmetry and suggest how they might act.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5731-5740
Number of pages10
Issue number23
StatePublished - Dec 2003


  • Asymmetry
  • C. elegans
  • G protein

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Cell Biology


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