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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.
Neuromodulators shape neural circuit dynamics. Combining electron microscopy, genetics, transcriptome profiling, calcium imaging, and optogenetics, we discovered a peptidergic neuron that modulates motor circuit dynamics. The Six/SO-family homeobox transcription factor UNC-39 governs lineage-specific neurogenesis to give rise to a neuron RID. RID bears the anatomic hallmarks of a specialized endocrine neuron: it harbors near-exclusive dense core vesicles that cluster periodically along the axon, and expresses multiple neuropeptides, including the FMRF-amide-related FLP-14. RID activity increases during forward movement. Ablating RID reduces the sustainability of forward movement, a phenotype partially recapitulated by removing FLP-14. Optogenetic depolarization of RID prolongs forward movement, an effect reduced in the absence of FLP-14. Together, these results establish the role of a neuroendocrine cell RID in sustaining a specific behavioral state in .
The ability of a neuron to regenerate its axon after injury depends in part on its intrinsic regenerative potential. Here, we identify novel intrinsic regulators of axon regeneration: poly(ADP-ribose) glycohodrolases (PARGs) and poly(ADP-ribose) polymerases (PARPs). PARGs, which remove poly(ADP-ribose) from proteins, act in injured GABA motor neurons to enhance axon regeneration. PARG expression is regulated by DLK signaling, and PARGs mediate DLK function in enhancing axon regeneration. Conversely, PARPs, which add poly(ADP-ribose) to proteins, inhibit axon regeneration of both GABA neurons and mammalian cortical neurons. Furthermore, chemical PARP inhibitors improve axon regeneration when administered after injury. Our results indicate that regulation of poly(ADP-ribose) levels is a critical function of the DLK regeneration pathway, that poly-(ADP ribosylation) inhibits axon regeneration across species, and that chemical inhibition of PARPs can elicit axon regeneration.
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.
Mutant mitochondrial genomes (mtDNA) can be viewed as selfish genetic elements that persist in a state of heteroplasmy despite having potentially deleterious metabolic consequences. We sought to study regulation of selfish mtDNA dynamics. We establish that the large 3.1-kb deletion-bearing mtDNA variant uaDf5 is a selfish genome in Caenorhabditis elegans. Next, we show that uaDf5 mutant mtDNA replicates in addition to, not at the expense of, wild-type mtDNA. These data suggest the existence of a homeostatic copy-number control that is exploited by uaDf5 to "hitchhike" to high frequency. We also observe activation of the mitochondrial unfolded protein response (UPR(mt)) in uaDf5 animals. Loss of UPR(mt) causes a decrease in uaDf5 frequency, whereas its constitutive activation increases uaDf5 levels. UPR(mt) activation protects uaDf5 from mitophagy. Taken together, we propose that mtDNA copy-number control and UPR(mt) represent two homeostatic response mechanisms that play important roles in regulating selfish mitochondrial genome dynamics.
Copyright © 2016 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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.