Separase is a protease that promotes chromosome segregation at anaphase by cleaving cohesin. Several non-proteolytic functions of separase have been identified in other organisms. We created a transgenic C. elegans line that expresses protease-dead separase in embryos to further characterize separase function. We find that expression of protease-dead separase is dominant-negative in C. elegans embryos, not previously reported in other systems. The C. elegans embryo is an ideal system to study developmental processes in a genetically tractable system. However, a major limitation is the lack of an inducible gene expression system for the embryo. We have developed two methods that allow for the propagation of lines carrying dominant-negative transgenes and have applied them to characterize expression of protease-dead separase in embryos. Using these methods, we show that protease-dead separase causes embryo lethality, and that protease-dead separase cannot rescue separase mutants. These data suggest that protease-dead separase interferes with endogenous separase function, possibly by binding substrates and protecting them from cleavage.
Mitchell DM, Uehlein-Klebanow LR, Bembenek JN (2014) Protease-Dead Separase Is Dominant Negative in the C. elegans Embryo. PLoS ONE 9(9): e108188. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0108188