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Development. 2011 Apr;138(7):1371-81. doi: 10.1242/dev.058305. Epub 2011 Feb 24.

Glia delimit shape changes of sensory neuron receptive endings in C. elegans.

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Laboratory of Developmental Genetics, The Rockefeller University, 1230 York Avenue, New York, NY 10065 USA.


Neuronal receptive endings, such as dendritic spines and sensory protrusions, are structurally remodeled by experience. How receptive endings acquire their remodeled shapes is not well understood. In response to environmental stressors, the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans enters a diapause state, termed dauer, which is accompanied by remodeling of sensory neuron receptive endings. Here, we demonstrate that sensory receptive endings of the AWC neurons in dauers remodel in the confines of a compartment defined by the amphid sheath (AMsh) glial cell that envelops these endings. AMsh glia remodel concomitantly with and independently of AWC receptive endings to delimit AWC receptive ending growth. Remodeling of AMsh glia requires the OTD/OTX transcription factor TTX-1, the fusogen AFF-1 and probably the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGFR)-related protein VER-1, all acting within the glial cell. ver-1 expression requires direct binding of TTX-1 to ver-1 regulatory sequences, and is induced in dauers and at high temperatures. Our results demonstrate that stimulus-induced changes in glial compartment size provide spatial constraints on neuronal receptive ending growth.

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