The unc-6 gene is required for the guidance of pioneer axons and migrating cells along the body wall in C. elegans. In mutants, dorsal and ventral migrations are disrupted, but longitudinal movements are largely unaffected. The gene was tagged for molecular cloning by two independent transposon insertions. Based on genomic and cDNA sequencing, the gene encodes a novel laminin-related protein, UNC-6 (591 amino acids). The N-terminus is homologous to the N-termini (i.e., domains VI, V-1, V-2, and V-3) of laminin subunits, while the C-terminus is a unique domain. We propose that UNC-6 is a component of an extracellular matrix cue that guides dorsoventral migrations on the epidermis.
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