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Elife. 2017 Jul 5;6. pii: e25751. doi: 10.7554/eLife.25751.

An intersectional gene regulatory strategy defines subclass diversity of C. elegans motor neurons.

Author information

1
Department of Neurobiology, University of Chicago, Chicago, United States.
2
Department of Biological Sciences, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Columbia University, New York, United States.
3
Department of Zoology, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.
4
Division of Neuroscience, San Raffaele Scientific Institute, Milan, Italy.
5
Università Vita-Salute San Raffaele, Milan, Italy.

Abstract

A core principle of nervous system organization is the diversification of neuron classes into subclasses that share large sets of features but differ in select traits. We describe here a molecular mechanism necessary for motor neurons to acquire subclass-specific traits in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. Cholinergic motor neuron classes of the ventral nerve cord can be subdivided into subclasses along the anterior-posterior (A-P) axis based on synaptic connectivity patterns and molecular features. The conserved COE-type terminal selector UNC-3 not only controls the expression of traits shared by all members of a neuron class, but is also required for subclass-specific traits expressed along the A-P axis. UNC-3, which is not regionally restricted, requires region-specific cofactors in the form of Hox proteins to co-activate subclass-specific effector genes in post-mitotic motor neurons. This intersectional gene regulatory principle for neuronal subclass diversification may be conserved from nematodes to mice.

KEYWORDS:

C. elegans; neuronal differentiation; neuroscience; transcriptional control

PMID:
28677525
PMCID:
PMC5498135
DOI:
10.7554/eLife.25751
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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