Formation of the nervous system requires a complex series of events including proper extension and guidance of neuronal axons and dendrites. Here we investigate the requirement for integrins, a class of transmembrane cell adhesion receptors, in regulating these processes across classes of C. elegans motor neurons. We show α integrin/ina-1 is expressed by both GABAergic and cholinergic motor neurons. Despite this, our analysis of hypomorphic ina-1(gm144) mutants indicates preferential involvement of α integrin/ina-1 in GABAergic commissural development, without obvious involvement in cholinergic commissural development. The defects in GABAergic commissures of ina-1(gm144) mutants included both premature termination and guidance errors and were reversed by expression of wild type ina-1 under control of the native ina-1 promoter. Our results also show that α integrin/ina-1 is important for proper outgrowth and guidance of commissures from both embryonic and post-embryonic born GABAergic motor neurons, indicating an ongoing requirement for integrin through two phases of GABAergic neuron development. Our findings provide insights into neuron-specific roles for integrin that would not be predicted based solely upon expression analysis.
Ebf Activates Expression of a Cholinergic Locus in a Multipolar Motor Ganglion Interneuron Subtype in Ciona
Conserved transcription factors termed “terminal selectors” regulate neuronal sub-type specification and differentiation through combinatorial transcriptional regulation of terminal differentiation genes. The unique combinations of terminal differentiation gene products in turn contribute to the functional identities of each neuron. One well-characterized terminal selector is COE (Collier/Olf/Ebf), which has been shown to activate cholinergic gene batteries in C. elegans motor neurons. However, its functions in other metazoans, particularly chordates, is less clear. Here we show that the sole COE ortholog in the non-vertebrate chordate Ciona robusta , Ebf, controls the expression of the cholinergic locus VAChT/ChAT in a single dorsal interneuron of the larval Motor Ganglion, which is presumed to be homologous to the vertebrate spinal cord. We propose that, while the function of Ebf as a regulator of cholinergic neuron identity conserved across bilaterians, its exact role may have diverged in different cholinergic neuron subtypes (e.g., interneurons vs. motor neurons) in chordate-specific motor circuits.
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- Frontiers in Neuroscience
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- National Science Foundation
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