Structural components of the nonstriated contractile apparatuses in the Caenorhabditis elegans gonadal myoepithelial sheath and their essential roles for ovulation



Ovulation in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans is regulated by complex signal transduction pathways and cell–cell interactions. Myoepithelial sheath cells of the proximal ovary are smooth muscle-like cells that provide contractile forces to push a mature oocyte into the spermatheca for fertilization. Although several genes that regulate sheath contraction have been characterized, basic components of the contractile apparatuses of the myoepithelial sheath have not been extensively studied. We identified major structural proteins of the contractile apparatuses of the myoepithelial sheath and characterized their nonstriated arrangement. Of interest, integrin and perlecan were found only at the dense bodies, whereas they localized to both dense bodies and M-lines in the striated body wall muscle. RNA interference of most of the myofibrillar components impaired ovulation in a soma-specific manner. Our results provide basic information that helps understanding the mechanism of sheath contraction during ovulation and establishing a new model to study morphogenesis of nonstriated muscle. Developmental Dynamics 236:1093–1105, 2007. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.