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Neuron. 2017 Jan 4;93(1):80-98. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2016.11.036.

Diversification of C. elegans Motor Neuron Identity via Selective Effector Gene Repression.

Author information

1
Department of Biological Sciences, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Columbia University, New York, NY 10027, USA.
2
Department of Biological Sciences, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Columbia University, New York, NY 10027, USA. Electronic address: pkratsios@uchicago.edu.
3
Department of Biological Sciences, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Columbia University, New York, NY 10027, USA. Electronic address: or38@columbia.edu.

Abstract

A common organizational feature of nervous systems is the existence of groups of neurons that share common traits but can be divided into individual subtypes based on anatomical or molecular features. We elucidate the mechanistic basis of neuronal diversification processes in the context of C.elegans ventral cord motor neurons that share common traits that are directly activated by the terminal selector UNC-3. Diversification of motor neurons into different classes, each characterized by unique patterns of effector gene expression, is controlled by distinct combinations of phylogenetically conserved, class-specific transcriptional repressors. These repressors are continuously required in postmitotic neurons to prevent UNC-3, which is active in all neuron classes, from activating class-specific effector genes in specific motor neuron subsets via discrete cis-regulatory elements. The strategy of antagonizing the activity of broadly acting terminal selectors of neuron identity in a subtype-specific fashion may constitute a general principle of neuron subtype diversification.

KEYWORDS:

C. elegans; combinatorial code; maintenance; motor neuron; neuron diversification; neuron subtype; repressor; selective repression; terminal selector; transcription factor

PMID:
28056346
PMCID:
PMC5777325
DOI:
10.1016/j.neuron.2016.11.036
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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