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Development. 2011 Jan;138(1):87-96. doi: 10.1242/dev.055350. Epub 2010 Nov 29.

Regulation of C. elegans presynaptic differentiation and neurite branching via a novel signaling pathway initiated by SAM-10.

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  • 1Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, Washington University School of Medicine, 660 South Euclid Avenue, St Louis, MO 63110, USA.


Little is known about transcriptional control of neurite branching or presynaptic differentiation, events that occur relatively late in neuronal development. Using the Caenorhabditis elegans mechanosensory circuit as an in vivo model, we show that SAM-10, an ortholog of mammalian single-stranded DNA-binding protein (SSDP), functions cell-autonomously in the nucleus to regulate synaptic differentiation, as well as positioning of, a single neurite branch. PLM mechanosensory neurons in sam-10 mutants exhibit abnormal placement of the neurite branch point, and defective synaptogenesis, characterized by an overextended synaptic varicosity, underdeveloped synaptic morphology and disrupted colocalization of active zone and synaptic vesicles. SAM-10 functions coordinately with Lim domain-binding protein 1 (LDB-1), demonstrated by our observations that: (1) mutations in either gene show similar defects in PLM neurons; and (2) LDB-1 is required for SAM-10 nuclear localization. SAM-10 regulates PLM synaptic differentiation by suppressing transcription of prk-2, which encodes an ortholog of the mammalian Pim kinase family. PRK-2-mediated activities of SAM-10 are specifically involved in PLM synaptic differentiation, but not other sam-10 phenotypes such as neurite branching. Thus, these data reveal a novel transcriptional signaling pathway that regulates neuronal specification of neurite branching and presynaptic differentiation.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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