cul-1 is required for cell cycle exit in C. elegans and identifies a novel gene family.
The gene cul-1 (formerly lin-19) is a negative regulator of the cell cycle in C. elegans. Null mutations cause hyperplasia of all tissues. cul-1 is required for developmentally programmed transitions from the G1 phase of the cell cycle to the GO phase or the apoptotic pathway. Moreover, the mutant phenotype suggests that G1-to-S phase progression is accelerated, overriding mechanisms for mitotic arrest and producing abnormally small cells. Significantly, diverse aspects of cell fate and differentiation are unaffected in cul-1 mutants. cul-1 represents a conserved family of genes, designated cullins, with at least five members in nematodes, six in humans, and three in budding yeast.