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CDK-11-Cyclin L is required for gametogenesis and fertility in C. elegans

Williams, Christopher W., Iyer, Jyoti, Liu, Yan, O’Connell, Kevin F.
Developmental biology 2018 v.441 no.1 pp. 52-66
Caenorhabditis elegans, RNA, animal development, animals, apoptosis, centrioles, chromatids, cohesion, cyclin-dependent kinase, cyclins, eggs, female fertility, gametogenesis, hermaphroditism, loci, males, oocytes, pachytene stage, spermatozoa, transcription (genetics)
CDK11, a member of the cyclin-dependent kinase family, has been implicated in a diverse array of functions including transcription, RNA processing, sister chromatid cohesion, spindle assembly, centriole duplication and apoptosis. Despite its involvement in many essential functions, little is known about the requirements for CDK11 and its partner Cyclin L in a developing multicellular organism. Here we investigate the function of CDK11 and Cyclin L during development of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. Worms express two CDK11 proteins encoded by distinct loci: CDK-11.1 is essential for normal male and female fertility and is broadly expressed in the nuclei of somatic and germ line cells, while CDK-11.2 is nonessential and is enriched in hermaphrodite germ line nuclei beginning in mid pachytene. Hermaphrodites lacking CDK-11.1 develop normally but possess fewer mature sperm and oocytes and do not fully activate the RAS-ERK pathway that is required for oocyte production in response to environmental cues. Most of the sperm and eggs that are produced in cdk-11.1 null animals appear to complete development normally but fail to engage in sperm-oocyte signaling suggesting that CDK-11.1 is needed at multiple points in gametogenesis. Finally, we find that CDK-11.1 and CDK-11.2 function redundantly during embryonic and postembryonic development and likely do so in association with Cyclin L. Our results thus define multiple requirements for CDK-11-Cyclin L during animal development.