Towards generating a C. elegans cell line
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The nematode C. elegans is an important genetic model organism. In the past six years, three noble prizes have been awarded to scientists working with this organism. The use of C. elegans as a biomedical model, however, has been held back by the absence of a C. elegans cell line. A cell line allows the growth of a particular type of cell in tissue culture and the study of specific cells of interest with greater efficiency. To generate a cell line in C. elegans, we focus on the adult stem cells called seam cells, which have the potential to be manipulated into generating a cell line. A cell line requires continuous proliferation of seam cells, so I tested whether the inactivation of genes known to regulate normal cell differentiation would lead to continuous seam cell proliferation. These genes are the negative cell-cycle regulators cul-1, lin-35; the stem cell division regulators rnt-1/bro-1 and pop-1; seam cell-fate specification transcription factor elt-5; epidermal differentiation factor lin-26. I inactivated these genes with RNA-mediated interference (RNAi). Seam cells were tagged with a vector that expresses Green Fluorescence Protein (GFP) for their visualization with a florescence microscope. The combination of pop-1 and overexpressed rnt-1/bro-1 produced the highest seam cell counts, followed by cul-1. The inactivation of the combination of these genes will be used as a starting point for making a C. elegans seam cell line whose presence will greatly benefit the research communities.