HLH-2 is the Caenorhabditis elegans ortholog of the Drosophila Daughterless and mammalian E basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) transcriptional activators that function during diverse events during animal development. HLH-2 has been implicated in cell fate specification in different neural lineages and in the LIN-12/Notch-mediated anchor cell (AC)/ventral uterine precursor cell (VU) decision in the somatic gonad. Here, we show that hlh-2 plays several distinct roles during somatic gonadogenesis. Our analysis suggests that hlh-2 is required to endow specific somatic gonadal cells with the competence to undergo the AC/VU decision, as well as functioning in the AC/VU decision per se; this novel "proAC" role appears to be analogous to the proneural role of Drosophila Daughterless. In addition to its two distinct roles in the specification of the AC, hlh-2 is also required for correct differentiation and function of the AC. hlh-2 also acts at an independent point in the gonadal lineage both to specify distal tip cells (DTCs) and in DTC differentiation and function.
- LIN-12, Notch