Author(s): Brandon Praslicka1,4, Jeremy S. Harmson1, Joohyun Kim2, Vittobai Rashika Rangaraj1, Aikseng Ooi3, and Chris R. Gissendanner1
Members of the NR4A subfamily of nuclear receptors make up a highly conserved, functionally diverse group of transcription factors implicated in a multitude of cellular processes such as proliferation, differentiation, apoptosis, metabolism and DNA repair. The gene nhr-6, which encodes the sole C.elegans NR4A nuclear receptor homolog, has a critical role in organogenesis and regulates the development of the spermatheca organ system. Our previous work revealed that nhr-6 is required for spermatheca cell divisions in late L3 and early L4 and spermatheca cell differentiation during the mid L4 stage. Here, we utilized chromatin immunoprecipitation followed by next-generation sequencing (ChIP-seq) to identify NHR-6 binding sites during both the late L3/early L4 and mid L4 developmental stages. Our results revealed 30,745 enriched binding sites for NHR-6, ∼70% of which were within 3 kb upstream of a gene transcription start site. Binding sites for a cohort of candidate target genes with probable functions in spermatheca organogenesis were validated through qPCR. Reproductive and spermatheca phenotypes were also evaluated for these genes following a loss-of-function RNAi screen which revealed several genes with critical functions during spermatheca organogenesis. Our results uncovered a complex nuclear receptor regulatory network whereby NHR-6 regulates multiple cellular processes during spermatheca organogenesis.