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Genesis. 2014 Jun;52(6):544-54. doi: 10.1002/dvg.22744. Epub 2014 Feb 7.

Asymmetric neural development in the Caenorhabditis elegans olfactory system.

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Division of Developmental Biology, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Research Foundation, Cincinnati, Ohio.


Asymmetries in the nervous system have been observed throughout the animal kingdom. Deviations of brain asymmetries are associated with a variety of neurodevelopmental disorders; however, there has been limited progress in determining how normal asymmetry is established in vertebrates. In the Caenorhabditis elegans chemosensory system, two pairs of morphologically symmetrical neurons exhibit molecular and functional asymmetries. This review focuses on the development of antisymmetry of the pair of amphid wing "C" (AWC) olfactory neurons, from transcriptional regulation of general cell identity, establishment of asymmetry through neural network formation and calcium signaling, to the maintenance of asymmetry throughout the life of the animal. Many of the factors that are involved in AWC development have homologs in vertebrates, which may potentially function in the development of vertebrate brain asymmetry.


AWC neurons; antisymmetry; calcium signaling; gap junctions; lateral inhibition; left-right neuronal asymmetry; nematode; stochastic cell fate

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