Gene expression profiling of epidermal cell types in C. elegans using Targeted DamID

ABSTRACT

The epidermis of Caenorhabditis elegans is an essential tissue for survival because it contributes to the formation of the cuticle barrier as well as facilitating developmental progression and animal growth. Most of the epidermis consists of the hyp7 hypodermal syncytium, the nuclei of which are largely generated by the seam cells, which exhibit stem cell-like behaviour during development. How seam cell progenitors differ transcriptionally from the differentiated hypodermis is poorly understood. Here, we introduce Targeted DamID (TaDa) in C. elegans as a method for identifying genes expressed within a tissue of interest without cell isolation. We show that TaDa signal enrichment profiles can be used to identify genes transcribed in the epidermis and use this method to resolve differences in gene expression between the seam cells and the hypodermis. Finally, we predict and functionally validate new transcription and chromatin factors acting in seam cell development. These findings provide insights into cell type-specific gene expression profiles likely associated with epidermal cell fate patterning.