Netrin (UNC-6) mediates dendritic self-avoidance.

Smith CJ, Watson JD, VanHoven MK, Colón-Ramos DA, Miller DM
Nat Neurosci. 2012 15 (5): 731-7

PMID: 22426253 · PMCID: PMC3337961 · DOI:10.1038/nn.3065

Dendrites from a single neuron may be highly branched but typically do not overlap. Self-avoidance behavior has been shown to depend on cell-specific membrane proteins that trigger mutual repulsion. Here we report the unexpected discovery that a diffusible cue, the axon guidance protein UNC-6 (Netrin), is required for self-avoidance of sister dendrites from the PVD nociceptive neuron in Caenorhabditis elegans. We used time-lapse imaging to show that dendrites fail to withdraw upon mutual contact in the absence of UNC-6 signaling. We propose a model in which the UNC-40 (Deleted in Colorectal Cancer; DCC) receptor captures UNC-6 at the tips of growing dendrites for interaction with UNC-5 on the apposing branch to induce mutual repulsion. UNC-40 also responds to dendritic contact through another pathway that is independent of UNC-6. Our findings offer a new model for how an evolutionarily conserved morphogenic cue and its cognate receptors can pattern a fundamental feature of dendritic architecture.

MeSH Terms (20)

Animals Animals, Genetically Modified Caenorhabditis elegans Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins Cell Adhesion Molecules Cell Movement Cloning, Molecular Dendrites Hot Temperature Luminescent Proteins Membrane Proteins Microscopy, Confocal Models, Molecular Mutation Nerve Tissue Proteins Netrins Nociceptors Signal Transduction Time-Lapse Imaging Time Factors

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