The ancestral caenorhabditis elegans cuticle suppresses rol-1

Luke M. Noble, Asif Miah, Taniya Kaur, Matthew V. Rockman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Genetic background commonly modifies the effects of mutations. We discovered that worms mutant for the canonical rol-1 gene, identified by Brenner in 1974, do not roll in the genetic background of the wild strain CB4856. Using linkage mapping, association analysis and gene editing, we determined that N2 carries an insertion in the collagen gene col-182 that acts as a recessive enhancer of rol-1 rolling. From population and comparative genomics, we infer the insertion is derived in N2 and related laboratory lines, likely arising during the domestication of Caenorhabditis elegans, and breaking a conserved protein. The ancestral version of col-182 also modifies the phenotypes of four other classical cuticle mutant alleles, and the effects of natural genetic variation on worm shape and locomotion. These results underscore the importance of genetic background and the serendipity of Brenner's choice of strain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2385-2395
Number of pages11
JournalG3: Genes, Genomes, Genetics
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2020


  • Collagen
  • Cuticle
  • Genetic background
  • Genetic interaction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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