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The mec-4 gene is a member of a family of Caenorhabditis elegans genes that can mutate to induce neuronal degeneration

Abstract

Three dominant mutations of mec-4, a gene needed for mechanosensation, cause the touch-receptor neurons of Caenorhabditis elegans to degenerate. With deg-1, another C. elegans gene that can mutate to induce neuronal degeneration and that is similar in sequence, mec-4 defines a new gene family. Cross-hybridizing sequences are detectable in other species, raising the possibility that degenerative conditions in other organisms may be caused by mutations in similar genes. All three dominant mec-4 mutations affect the same amino acid. Effects of amino-acid substitutions at this position suggest that steric hindrance may induce the degenerative state.

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