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The Hairy/Enhancer-of-Split (HES) group of transcription factors controls embryonic development, often by acting downstream of the Notch signaling pathway; however, little is known about postembryonic roles of these proteins. In Caenorhabditis elegans, the six proteins that make up the REF-1 family are considered to be HES orthologs that act in both Notch dependent and Notch-independent pathways to regulate embryonic events. To further our understanding of how the REF-1 family works to coordinate post-embryonic cellular events, we performed a functional characterization of the REF-1 family member, HLH-25. We show that, after embryogenesis, hlh-25 expression persists throughout every developmental stage, including dauer, into adulthood. Like animals that carry loss-of-function alleles in genes required for normal cell cycle progression, the phenotypes of hlh-25 animals include reduced brood size, unfertilized oocytes, and abnormal gonad morphology. Using gene expression microarray, we show that the HLH-25 transcriptional network correlates with the phenotypes of hlh-25 animals, and that the C. elegans Pten ortholog, daf-18, is one major hub in the network. Finally, we show that HLH-25 regulates C. elegans lifespan and dauer recovery, which correlates with a role in the transcriptional repression of daf-18 activity. Collectively, these data provide the first genetic evidence that HLH-25 may be a functional ortholog of mammalian HES1, which represses PTEN activity in mice and human cells.


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G3 (Bethesda), 5 (12), 2619-28. doi:

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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