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Cell Rep. 2013 Sep 12;4(5):996-1009. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2013.07.045. Epub 2013 Aug 29.

Nonautonomous regulation of neuronal migration by insulin signaling, DAF-16/FOXO, and PAK-1.

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Department of Genetics and Development, Columbia University, New York, NY 10032, USA.


Neuronal migration is essential for nervous system development in all organisms and is regulated in the nematode, C. elegans, by signaling pathways that are conserved in humans. Here, we demonstrate that the insulin/IGF-1-PI3K signaling pathway modulates the activity of the DAF-16/FOXO transcription factor to regulate the anterior migrations of the hermaphrodite-specific neurons (HSNs) during embryogenesis of C. elegans. When signaling is reduced, DAF-16 is activated and promotes migration; conversely, when signaling is enhanced, DAF-16 is inactivated, and migration is inhibited. We show that DAF-16 acts nonautonomously in the hypodermis to promote HSN migration. Furthermore, we identify PAK-1, a p21-activated kinase, as a downstream mediator of insulin/IGF-1-DAF-16 signaling in the nonautonomous control of HSN migration. Because a FOXO-Pak1 pathway was recently shown to regulate mammalian neuronal polarity, our findings indicate that the roles of FOXO and Pak1 in neuronal migration are most likely conserved from C. elegans to higher organisms.

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