MRG-1/MRG15 is a barrier for germ cell to neuron reprogramming in Caenorhabditis elegans


  • M. Hajduskova
  • G. Baytek
  • E. Kolundzic
  • A. Gosdschan
  • M. Kazmierczak
  • A. Ofenbauer
  • M.L. Beato del Rosal
  • S. Herzog
  • N. ul Fatima
  • P. Mertins
  • S. Seelk-Müthel
  • B. Tursun


  • Genetics


  • Genetics 211 (1): 121-139


  • Chromatin regulators play important roles in the safeguarding of cell identities by opposing the induction of ectopic cell fates and, thereby, preventing forced conversion of cell identities by reprogramming approaches. Our knowledge of chromatin regulators acting as reprogramming barriers in living organisms needs improvement as most studies use tissue culture. We used C. elegans as an in vivo gene discovery model and automated solid-phase RNAi screening, by which we identified 10 chromatin-regulating factors that protect cells against ectopic fate induction. Specifically, the chromodomain protein MRG-1 safeguards germ cells against conversion into neurons. MRG-1 is the ortholog of mammalian MRG15 (MORF-related gene on chromosome 15) and is required during germline development in C. elegans. However, MRG-1's function as a barrier for germ cell reprogramming has not been revealed previously. Here, we further provide protein-protein and genome interactions of MRG-1 to characterize its molecular functions. Conserved chromatin regulators may have similar functions in higher organisms and, therefore, understanding cell fate protection in C. elegans may also help to facilitate reprogramming of human cells.