Genetically targeted cell disruption in Caenorhabditis elegans

S. Harbinder, Nektarios Tavernarakis, Laura A. Herndon, Maud Kinnell, Si Qun Xu, Andrew Fire, Monica Driscoll

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


The elimination of identified cells is a powerful tool for investigating development and system function. Here we report on genetically mediated cell disruption effected by the toxic Caenorhabditis elegans mec-4(d) allele. We found that ectopic expression of mec-4(d) in the nematode causes dysfunction of a wide range of nerve, muscle, and hypodermal cells. mec-4(d)-mediated toxicity is dependent on the activity of a second gene, mec-6, rendering cell disruption conditionally dependent on genetic background. We describe a set of mec-4(d) vectors that facilitate construction of cell-specific disruption reagents and note that genetic cell disruption can be used for functional analyses of specific neurons or neuronal classes, for confirmation of neuronal circuitry, for generation of nematode populations lacking defined classes of functional cells, and for genetic screens. We suggest that mec- 4(d) and/or related genes may be effective general tools for cell inactivation that could be used toward similar purposes in higher organisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13128-13133
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number24
StatePublished - Nov 25 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • Cell ablation
  • Cell death
  • Degenerin
  • ENaC superfamily
  • Ion channels

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


Dive into the research topics of 'Genetically targeted cell disruption in Caenorhabditis elegans'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this