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Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2019 Jan 18;56:97-105. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2018.12.006. [Epub ahead of print]

Neuronal identity control by terminal selectors in worms, flies, and chordates.

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Department of Biological Sciences, Columbia University, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, 1212 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, NY 10025, USA. Electronic address:
Department of Neurobiology, University of Chicago, 947 E. 58th St., Chicago, IL 60637, USA. Electronic address:


How do post-mitotic neurons acquire and maintain their terminal identity? Genetic mutant analysis in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans has revealed common molecular programs that control neuronal identity. Neuron type-specific combinations of transcription factors, called terminal selectors, act as master regulatory factors to initiate and maintain terminal identity programs through direct regulation of neuron type-specific effector genes. We will provide here an update on recent studies that solidify the terminal selector concept in worms, flies and chordates. We will also describe how the terminal selector concept has been expanded by recent work in C. elegans to explain neuronal subtype diversification and plasticity of neuronal identity.


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