Lipocalin signaling controls unicellular tube development in the Caenorhabditis elegans excretory system

Craig E. Stone, David H. Hall, Meera V. Sundaram

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

36 Scopus citations


Unicellular tubes or capillaries composed of individual cells with a hollow lumen perform important physiological functions including fluid or gas transport and exchange. These tubes are thought to build intracellular lumina by polarized trafficking of apical membrane components, but the molecular signals that promote luminal growth and luminal connectivity between cells are poorly understood. Here we show that the lipocalin LPR-1 is required for luminal connectivity between two unicellular tubes in the Caenorhabditis elegans excretory (renal) system, the excretory duct cell and pore cell. Lipocalins are a large family of secreted proteins that transport lipophilic cargos and participate in intercellular signaling. lpr-1 is required at a time of rapid luminal growth, it is expressed by the duct, pore and surrounding cells, and it can function cell non-autonomously. These results reveal a novel signaling mechanism that controls unicellular tube formation, and provide a genetic model system for dissecting lipocalin signaling pathways.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)201-211
Number of pages11
JournalDevelopmental Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 15 2009



  • Excretory
  • Intercellular signaling
  • Lipocalin
  • Tubulogenesis
  • lpr-1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology

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