The C. elegans hypodermis is a single epithelial cell layer separated from the musculature by a thin basement membrane on its basal surface. The hypodermis secretes the extracellular material of the cuticle from its apical surface. The regulation of cuticle synthesis and apical secretion is not well understood. UNC-95 is a component of the muscle dense bodies and M-lines, which are integrin-based adhesion complexes required for force transduction to the cuticle. Using gene expression profiling and in vivo assays, we show that, in unc-95 mutant worms, there is an increase in expression levels of a group of hypodermal and pharyngeal genes related to cuticle structure and molting. Moreover, the cuticle structure of unc-95 mutant adult is impaired. Our findings suggest that aberrant force transduction from the structurally impaired muscle attachments across the basement membrane to the underlying hypodermis elicits intercellular signaling that plays a role in regulating cuticle synthesis and patterning.
- C. elegans
- Muscle dense-bodies