Control of body size by SMA-5, a homolog of MAP kinase BMK1/ERK5, in C. elegans

Naoharu Watanabe, Yasuko Nagamatsu, Keiko Gengyo-Ando, Shohei Mitani, Yasumi Ohshima

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


We have analyzed the sma-5(n678) mutant in C. elegans to elucidate mechanisms controlling body size. The sma-5 mutant is very small, grows slowly and its intestinal granules look abnormal. We found a 15 kb deletion in the mutant that includes a 226 bp deletion of the 3′ end of the W06B3.2-coding sequence. Based on this result, rescue experiments, RNAi experiments and a newly isolated deletion mutant of W06B3.2, we conclude that W06B3.2 is the sma-5 gene. The sma-5 mutant has much smaller intestine, body wall muscles and hypodermis than those of the wild type. However, the number of intestinal cells or body wall muscle cells is not changed, indicating that the sma-5 mutant has much smaller cells. In relation to the smaller cell size, the amount of total protein is drastically decreased; however, the DNA content of the intestinal nuclei is unchanged in the sma-5 mutant. The sma-5 gene is expressed in intestine, excretory cell and hypodermis, and encodes homologs of a mammalian MAP kinase BMK1/ERK5/MAPK7, which was reported to control cell cycle and cell proliferation. Expression of the sma-5 gene in hypodermis is important for body size control, and it can function both organ-autonomously and non-autonomously. We propose that the sma-5 gene functions in a MAP kinase pathway to regulate body size mainly through control of cell growth.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3175-3184
Number of pages10
JournalDevelopment (Cambridge)
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 2005 Jul


  • Body size
  • C. elegans
  • MAP kinase
  • SMA-5


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