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Critical Reviews™ in Eukaryotic Gene Expression

Impact factor: 1.660

ISSN Print: 1045-4403
ISSN Online: 2162-6502

Critical Reviews™ in Eukaryotic Gene Expression

DOI: 10.1615/CritRevEukaryotGeneExpr.v12.i1.40
24 pages

Diversity and Function of Orphan Nuclear Receptors in Nematodes

Marc Van Gilst
Department of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 94143
Christopher R. Gissendanner
Cambria Biosciences LLC, Bedford, MA 01730; Current address: New England Biolabs, Beverly, MA 01915
Ann E. Sluder
Cambria Biosciences LLC, Bedford, MA 01730


Nuclear receptors (NRs) have key regulatory functions in a wide range of biological processes and are one of the most abundant classes of transcriptional regulators in metazoans. NRs are particularly numerous in nematodes, in which the NR gene family has undergone extensive expansion and diversification, providing an evolutionary structure function experiment that is yielding new perspectives on the mechanisms of NR function and on nematode biology. The genome sequence of the free-living nematode Caenorhabditis elegans reveals 270 predicted NR genes, more than fivefold more than observed for any other species to date, though existing data suggest that NR genes are similarly abundant in other nematodes. Most of the currently available information regarding the functions of nematode NRs comes from ongoing studies with C. elegans, and we review here what has been learned thus far in three key areas: the relationships of C. elegans NRs to those in other species; the biochemical consequences of nematode NR sequence diversity