Publication — IRIC
MAP kinase signaling antagonizes PAR-1 function during polarization of the early Caenorhabditis elegans embryo.
PAR proteins (partitioning defective) are major regulators of cell polarity and asymmetric cell division. One of the par genes, par-1, encodes a Ser/Thr kinase that is conserved from yeast to mammals. In Caenorhabditis elegans, par-1 governs asymmetric cell division by ensuring the polar distribution of cell fate determinants. However the precise mechanisms by which PAR-1 regulates asymmetric cell division in C. elegans remain to be elucidated. We performed a genomewide RNAi screen and identified six genes that specifically suppress the embryonic lethal phenotype associated with mutations in par-1. One of these suppressors is mpk-1, the C. elegans homolog of the conserved mitogen activated protein (MAP) kinase ERK. Loss of function of mpk-1 restored embryonic viability, asynchronous cell divisions, the asymmetric distribution of cell fate specification markers, and the distribution of PAR-1 protein in par-1 mutant embryos, indicating that this genetic interaction is functionally relevant for embryonic development. Furthermore, disrupting the function of other components of the MAPK signaling pathway resulted in suppression of par-1 embryonic lethality. Our data therefore indicates that MAP kinase signaling antagonizes PAR-1 signaling during early C. elegans embryonic polarization.