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Sleep requires sleep-active neurons that depolarize to inhibit wake circuits. Sleep-active neurons are under the control of homeostatic mechanisms that determine sleep need. However, little is known about the molecular and circuit mechanisms that translate sleep need into the depolarization of sleep-active neurons. During many stages and conditions in C. elegans, sleep requires a sleep-active neuron called RIS. Here, we defined the transcriptome of RIS and discovered that genes of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) signaling pathway are expressed in RIS. Because of cellular stress, EGFR directly activates RIS. Activation of EGFR signaling in the ALA neuron has previously been suggested to promote sleep independently of RIS. Unexpectedly, we found that ALA activation promotes RIS depolarization. Our results suggest that ALA is a drowsiness neuron with two separable functions: (1) it inhibits specific behaviors, such as feeding, independently of RIS, (2) and it activates RIS. Whereas ALA plays a strong role in surviving cellular stress, surprisingly, RIS does not. In summary, EGFR signaling can depolarize RIS by an indirect mechanism through activation of the ALA neuron that acts upstream of the sleep-active RIS neuron and through a direct mechanism using EGFR signaling in RIS. ALA-dependent drowsiness, rather than RIS-dependent sleep bouts, appears to be important for increasing survival after cellular stress, suggesting that different types of behavioral inhibition play different roles in restoring health. VIDEO ABSTRACT.
Copyright © 2019 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Dendrite growth is constrained by a self-avoidance response that induces retraction but the downstream pathways that balance these opposing mechanisms are unknown. We have proposed that the diffusible cue UNC-6(Netrin) is captured by UNC-40(DCC) for a short-range interaction with UNC-5 to trigger self-avoidance in the C. elegans PVD neuron. Here we report that the actin-polymerizing proteins UNC-34(Ena/VASP), WSP-1(WASP), UNC-73(Trio), MIG-10(Lamellipodin) and the Arp2/3 complex effect dendrite retraction in the self-avoidance response mediated by UNC-6(Netrin). The paradoxical idea that actin polymerization results in shorter rather than longer dendrites is explained by our finding that NMY-1 (non-muscle myosin II) is necessary for retraction and could therefore mediate this effect in a contractile mechanism. Our results also show that dendrite length is determined by the antagonistic effects on the actin cytoskeleton of separate sets of effectors for retraction mediated by UNC-6(Netrin) versus outgrowth promoted by the DMA-1 receptor. Thus, our findings suggest that the dendrite length depends on an intrinsic mechanism that balances distinct modes of actin assembly for growth versus retraction.
GFP labeling by genome editing can reveal the authentic location of a native protein, but is frequently hampered by weak GFP signals and broad expression across a range of tissues that may obscure cell-specific localization. To overcome these problems, we engineered a Native And Tissue-specific Fluorescence (NATF) strategy that combines genome editing and split-GFP to yield bright, cell-specific protein labeling. We use clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats CRISPR/Cas9 to insert a tandem array of seven copies of the GFP11 β-strand ( ) at the genomic locus of each target protein. The resultant knock-in strain is then crossed with separate reporter lines that express the complementing split-GFP fragment () in specific cell types, thus affording tissue-specific labeling of the target protein at its native level. We show that NATF reveals the otherwise undetectable intracellular location of the immunoglobulin protein OIG-1 and demarcates the receptor auxiliary protein LEV-10 at cell-specific synaptic domains in the nervous system.
Copyright © 2019 by the Genetics Society of America.
Differential gene expression defines individual neuron types and determines how each contributes to circuit physiology and responds to injury and disease. The C. elegans Neuronal Gene Expression Map & Network (CeNGEN) will establish a comprehensive gene expression atlas of an entire nervous system at single-neuron resolution.
Copyright © 2018. Published by Elsevier Inc.
Proper morphogenesis of dendrites plays a fundamental role in the establishment of neural circuits. The molecular mechanism by which dendrites grow highly complex branches is not well understood. Here, using the Caenorhabditis elegans PVD neuron, we demonstrate that high-order dendritic branching requires actin polymerization driven by coordinated interactions between two membrane proteins, DMA-1 and HPO-30, with their cytoplasmic interactors, the RacGEF TIAM-1 and the actin nucleation promotion factor WAVE regulatory complex (WRC). The dendrite branching receptor DMA-1 directly binds to the PDZ domain of TIAM-1, while the claudin-like protein HPO-30 directly interacts with the WRC. On dendrites, DMA-1 and HPO-30 form a receptor-associated signaling complex to bring TIAM-1 and the WRC to close proximity, leading to elevated assembly of F-actin needed to drive high-order dendrite branching. The synergistic activation of F-actin assembly by scaffolding distinct actin regulators might represent a general mechanism in promoting complex dendrite arborization.
Copyright © 2018. Published by Elsevier Inc.
The dendritic processes of nociceptive neurons transduce external signals into neurochemical cues that alert the organism to potentially damaging stimuli. The receptive field for each sensory neuron is defined by its dendritic arbor, but the mechanisms that shape dendritic architecture are incompletely understood. Using the model nociceptor, the PVD neuron in C. elegans, we determined that two types of PVD lateral branches project along the dorsal/ventral axis to generate the PVD dendritic arbor: (1) Pioneer dendrites that adhere to the epidermis, and (2) Commissural dendrites that fasciculate with circumferential motor neuron processes. Previous reports have shown that the LIM homeodomain transcription factor MEC-3 is required for all higher order PVD branching and that one of its targets, the claudin-like membrane protein HPO-30, preferentially promotes outgrowth of pioneer branches. Here, we show that another MEC-3 target, the conserved TFIIA-like zinc finger transcription factor EGL-46, adopts the alternative role of specifying commissural dendrites. The known EGL-46 binding partner, the TEAD transcription factor EGL-44, is also required for PVD commissural branch outgrowth. Double mutants of hpo-30 and egl-44 show strong enhancement of the lateral branching defect with decreased numbers of both pioneer and commissural dendrites. Thus, HPO-30/Claudin and EGL-46/EGL-44 function downstream of MEC-3 and in parallel acting pathways to direct outgrowth of two distinct classes of PVD dendritic branches.
Copyright © 2017 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
The neurotransmitter dopamine (DA) regulates multiple behaviors across phylogeny, with disrupted DA signaling in humans associated with addiction, attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder, schizophrenia, and Parkinson's disease. The DA transporter (DAT) imposes spatial and temporal limits on DA action, and provides for presynaptic DA recycling to replenish neurotransmitter pools. Molecular mechanisms that regulate DAT expression, trafficking, and function, particularly , remain poorly understood, though recent studies have implicated rho-linked pathways in psychostimulant action. To identify genes that dictate the ability of DAT to sustain normal levels of DA clearance, we pursued a forward genetic screen in based on the phenotype swimming-induced paralysis (Swip), a paralytic behavior observed in hermaphrodite worms with loss-of-function mutations. Here, we report the identity of , which encodes a highly conserved ortholog of the human atypical MAP kinase ERK8. We present evidence that SWIP-13 acts presynaptically to insure adequate levels of surface DAT expression and DA clearance. Moreover, we provide and evidence supporting a conserved pathway involving SWIP-13/ERK8 activation of Rho GTPases that dictates DAT surface expression and function. Signaling by the neurotransmitter dopamine (DA) is tightly regulated by the DA transporter (DAT), insuring efficient DA clearance after release. Molecular networks that regulate DAT are poorly understood, particularly Using a forward genetic screen in the nematode , we implicate the atypical mitogen activated protein kinase, SWIP-13, in DAT regulation. Moreover, we provide and evidence that SWIP-13, as well as its human counterpart ERK8, regulate DAT surface availability via the activation of Rho proteins. Our findings implicate a novel pathway that regulates DA synaptic availability and that may contribute to risk for disorders linked to perturbed DA signaling. Targeting this pathway may be of value in the development of therapeutics in such disorders.
Copyright © 2017 the authors 0270-6474/17/379288-17$15.00/0.
Isoketals (IsoKs) are highly reactive γ-ketoaldehyde products of lipid peroxidation that covalently adduct lysine side chains in proteins, impairing their function. Using C. elegans as a model organism, we sought to test the hypothesis that IsoKs contribute to molecular aging through adduction and inactivation of specific protein targets, and that this process can be abrogated using salicylamine (SA), a selective IsoK scavenger. Treatment with SA extends adult nematode longevity by nearly 56% and prevents multiple deleterious age-related biochemical and functional changes. Testing of a variety of molecular targets for SA's action revealed the sirtuin SIR-2.1 as the leading candidate. When SA was administered to a SIR-2.1 knockout strain, the effects on lifespan and healthspan extension were abolished. The SIR-2.1-dependent effects of SA were not mediated by large changes in gene expression programs or by significant changes in mitochondrial function. However, expression array analysis did show SA-dependent regulation of the transcription factor ets-7 and associated genes. In ets-7 knockout worms, SA's longevity effects were abolished, similar to sir-2.1 knockouts. However, SA dose-dependently increases ets-7 mRNA levels in non-functional SIR-2.1 mutant, suggesting that both are necessary for SA's complete lifespan and healthspan extension.
Genetic programming and neural activity drive synaptic remodeling in developing neural circuits, but the molecular components that link these pathways are poorly understood. Here we show that the C. elegans Degenerin/Epithelial Sodium Channel (DEG/ENaC) protein, UNC-8, is transcriptionally controlled to function as a trigger in an activity-dependent mechanism that removes synapses in remodeling GABAergic neurons. UNC-8 cation channel activity promotes disassembly of presynaptic domains in DD type GABA neurons, but not in VD class GABA neurons where unc-8 expression is blocked by the COUP/TF transcription factor, UNC-55. We propose that the depolarizing effect of UNC-8-dependent sodium import elevates intracellular calcium in a positive feedback loop involving the voltage-gated calcium channel UNC-2 and the calcium-activated phosphatase TAX-6/calcineurin to initiate a caspase-dependent mechanism that disassembles the presynaptic apparatus. Thus, UNC-8 serves as a link between genetic and activity-dependent pathways that function together to promote the elimination of GABA synapses in remodeling neurons.
Modulation of neurotransmission by the catecholamine dopamine (DA) is conserved across phylogeny. In the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, excess DA signaling triggers Swimming-Induced Paralysis (Swip), a phenotype first described in animals with loss of function mutations in the presynaptic DA transporter (dat-1). Swip has proven to be a phenotype suitable for the identification of novel dat-1 mutations as well as the identification of novel genes that impact DA signaling. Pharmacological manipulations can also induce Swip, though the reagents employed to date lack specificity and potency, limiting their use in evaluation of dat-1 expression and function. Our lab previously established the mammalian norepinephrine transporter (NET) inhibitor nisoxetine to be a potent antagonist of DA uptake conferred by DAT-1 following heterologous expression. Here we demonstrate the ability of low (μM) concentrations of nisoxetine to trigger Swip within minutes of incubation, with paralysis dependent on DA release and signaling, and non-additive with Swip triggered by dat-1 deletion. Using nisoxetine in combination with genetic mutations that impact DA release, we further demonstrate the utility of the drug for demonstrating contributions of presynaptic DA receptors and ion channels to Swip. Together, these findings reveal nisoxetine as a powerful reagent for monitoring multiple dimensions of DA signaling in vivo, thus providing a new resource that can be used to evaluate contributions of dat-1 and other genes linked to DA signaling without the potential for compensations that attend constitutive genetic mutations.
Copyright © 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.