The homologous receptors LIN-12 and GLP-1 mediate diverse cell-signaling events during development of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. These two receptors appear to be functionally interchangeable and have sequence similarity to Drosophila Notch. Here we focus on a molecular analysis of the lag-1 gene (lin-12 -and glp-1), which plays a central role in LIN-12 and GLP-1-mediated signal transduction. We find that the predicted LAG-1 protein is homologous to two DNA-binding proteins: human C Promoter Binding Factor (CBF1) and Drosophila Suppressor of Hairless (Su(H)). Furthermore, we show that LAG-1 binds specifically to the DNA sequence RTGGGAA, previously identified as a CBF-1/Su(H)-binding site. Finally, we report that the 5′ flanking regions and first introns of the lin-12, glp-1 and lag-1 genes are enriched for potential LAG-1-binding sites. We propose that LAG-1 is a transcriptional regulator that serves as a primary link between the LIN-12 and GLP-1 receptors and downstream target genes in C. elegans. In addition, we propose that LAG-1 may be a key component of a positive feedback loop that amplifies activity of the LIN-12/GLP-1 pathway.

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