The Caenorhabditis elegans hermaphrodite egg-laying system comprises several tissues, including the uterus and vulva. lin-11 encodes a LIM domain transcription factor needed for certain vulval precursor cells to divide asymmetrically. Based on lin-11 expression studies and the lin-11 mutant phenotype, we find that lin-11 is also required for C. elegans uterine morphogenesis. Specifically, lin-11 is expressed in the ventral uterine intermediate precursor (pi) cells and their progeny (the utse and uv1 cells), which connect the uterus to the vulva. Like (pi) cell induction, the uterine lin-11 expression responds to the uterine anchor cell and the lin-12-encoded receptor. In wild type animals, the utse, which forms the planar process at the uterine-vulval interface, fuses with the anchor cell. We found that, in lin-11 mutants, utse differentiation was abnormal, the utse failed to fuse with the anchor cell and a functional uterine-vulval connection was not made. These findings indicate that lin-11 is essential for uterine-vulval morphogenesis.

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