Functional diversification of the nematode mbd2/3 gene between Pristionchus pacificus and Caenorhabditis elegans

Gutierrez, Arturo; Sommer, Ralf J
January 2007
BMC Genetics;2007, Vol. 8, p1
Academic Journal
Background: Several members of the Methyl-Binding Domain protein family link DNA methylation with chromatin remodeling complexes in vertebrates. Amongst the four classes of MBD proteins, MBD2/3 is the most highly conserved and widespread in metazoans. We have previously reported that an mbd2/3 like gene (mbd-2) is encoded in the genomes of the nematodes Pristionchus pacificus, Caenorhabditis elegans and Caenorhabditis briggsae. RNAi knock-down of mbd-2 in the two Caenorhabditis species results in varying percentages of lethality. Results: Here, we report that a general feature of nematode MBD2/3 proteins seems to be the lack of a bona fide methyl-binding domain. We isolated a null allele of mbd-2 in P. pacificus and show that Ppa-mbd-2 mutants are viable, fertile and display a fully penetrant egg laying defect. This egg laying defect is partially rescued by treatment with acetylcholine or nicotine suggesting a specific function of this protein in vulval neurons.Using Yeast-two-hybrid screens, Ppa-MBD-2 was found to associate with microtubule interacting and vesicle transfer proteins. Conclusion: These results imply that MBD2/3 proteins in nematodes are more variable than their relatives in insects and vertebrates both in structure and function. Moreover, nematode MBD2/3 proteins assume functions independent of DNA methylation ranging from the indispensable to the non-essential.


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