Linking gene expression in the intestine to production of gametes through the phosphate transporter PITR-1 in Caenorhabditis elegans

Zita Balklava*, Navin D. Rathnakumar, Shilpa Vashist, Peter J. Schweinsberg, Barth D. Grant

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Inorganic phosphate is an essential mineral for both prokaryotic and eukaryotic cell metabolism and structure. Its uptake into the cell is mediated by membrane bound transporters and coupled to Na+ transport. Mammalian sodium-dependent Pi co-transporters have been grouped into three families NaPi-I, NaPi-II, and NaPi-III. Despite being discovered more than 2 decades ago, very little is known about requirements for NaPi-III transporters in vivo, in the context of intact animal models. Here we find that impaired function of the C. elegans NaPi-III transporter, pitr-1, results in decreased brood size and dramatically increased expression of vitellogenin by the worm intestine. Unexpectedly, we found that the effects of pitr-1 mutation on vitellogenin expression in the intestine could only be rescued by expression of pitr-1 in the germline, and not by expression of pitr-1 in the intestine itself. Our results indicate the existence of a signal from the germline that regulates gene expression in the intestine, perhaps linking nutrient export from the intestine to production of gametes by the germline.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)153-162
Number of pages10
Issue number1
Early online date22 Jul 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2016

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2016 Balklava et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Supplemental material is available online at


  • caenorhabditis elegans
  • sodium-dependent phosphate transporter
  • PiT
  • germline signaling
  • yolk
  • phosphate sensing


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