The C. elegans pseudogene sspt-16 (F55A3.7) is required to safeguard germ cells against reprogramming


  • A. Ofenbauer
  • C.M. Kraus
  • B. Tursun


  • microPublication Biology


  • microPubl Biol 2021


  • We recently identified FAcilitates Chromatin Transcription (FACT) as a reprogramming barrier of transcription factor (TF) mediated conversion of germ cells into neurons in C. elegans. FACT is a conserved heterodimer consisting of SPT16 and SSRP1 in mammals. Duplication events during evolution in C. elegans generated two SSRP1 homologs named HMG-3 and HMG-4, while SPT-16 is the only homolog of SPT16. Yet, the pseudogene F55A3.7 has nearly complete nucleotide sequence homology to the spt-16 gene. However, F55A3.7 lacks some spt-16 exons and DNA pieces so we named it sspt-16 (short spt-16). Surprisingly, the deletion mutant ok1829, which affects only the sspt-16 pseudogene, shows similar germ cell reprogramming effects as described previously for FACT-depleted animals. We examined whether lack of sspt-16 affects other genes or chromatin accessibility, which may explain the permissiveness for germ cell reprogramming.