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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.


This article was published openly thanks to the University of Tennessee Open Publishing Support Fund.

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