The unc-52 gene encodes the nematode homologue of mammalian perlecan, the major heparan sulphate proteoglycan of the extracellular matrix. This is a large complex protein with regions similar to low-density lipoprotein receptors, laminin and neural cell-adhesion molecules. Three major classes of UNC-52/perlecan isoforms are produced through alternative splicing, and these distinct proteins exhibit complex spatial and temporal expression patterns throughout development. The unc-52 gene plays an essential role in myofilament assembly in body-wall muscle during embryonic development.

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