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Development. 2000 Oct;127(19):4239-52.

The C. elegans NeuroD homolog cnd-1 functions in multiple aspects of motor neuron fate specification.

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  • 1Department of Biology, Sinsheimer Laboratories, University of California, Santa Cruz, California 95064, USA.

Abstract

The basic helix-loop-helix transcription factor NeuroD (Neurod1) has been implicated in neuronal fate determination, differentiation and survival. Here we report the expression and functional analysis of cnd-1, a C. elegans NeuroD homolog. cnd-1 expression was first detected in neuroblasts of the AB lineage in 14 cell embryos and maintained in many neuronal descendants of the AB lineage during embryogenesis, diminishing in most terminally differentiated neurons prior to hatching. Specifically, cnd-1 reporter genes were expressed in the precursors of the embryonic ventral cord motor neurons and their progeny. A loss-of-function mutant, cnd-1(ju29), exhibited multiple defects in the ventral cord motor neurons. First, the number of motor neurons was reduced, possibly caused by the premature withdrawal of the precursors from mitotic cycles. Second, the strict correlation between the fate of a motor neuron with respect to its lineage and position in the ventral cord was disrupted, as manifested by the variable expression pattern of motor neuron fate specific markers. Third, motor neurons also exhibited defects in terminal differentiation characteristics including axonal morphology and synaptic connectivity. Finally, the expression patterns of three neuronal type-specific transcription factors, unc-3, unc-4 and unc-30, were altered. Our data suggest that cnd-1 may specify the identity of ventral cord motor neurons both by maintaining the mitotic competence of their precursors and by modulating the expression of neuronal type-specific determination factors. cnd-1 appears to have combined the functions of several vertebrate neurogenic bHLH proteins and may represent an ancestral form of this protein family.

PMID:
10976055
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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