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Glia actively sculpt sensory neurons by controlled phagocytosis to tune animal behavior

By Stephan Raiders, Erik Calvin Black, Andrea Bae, Stephen MacFarlane, Shai Shaham, Aakanksha Singhvi

Posted 12 Nov 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.11.11.378893

Glia in the central nervous system engulf neuron fragments during synapse remodeling and recycling of photoreceptor outer-segments. Whether glia passively clear shed neuronal debris, or actively remove neuron fragments is unknown. How pruning of single-neuron endings impacts animal behavior is also unclear. Here we report that adult C. elegans AMsh glia engulf sensory endings of the AFD thermosensory neuron. Engulfment is regulated by temperature, AFD’s sensory input, and tracks AFD activity. Phosphatidylserine (PS) flippase TAT-1/ATP8A, functions with glial PS-receptor PSR-1/PSR and PAT-2/α-integrin to initiate engulfment. Glial CED-10/Rac1 GTPase, acting through a conserved GEF complex, executes phagocytosis using the actin-remodeler WSP-1/nWASp and the membrane-sealing factor EFF-1 fusogen. CED-10 levels determine engulfment rates, and engulfment-defective mutants exhibit altered AFD-ending shape and thermosensory behavior. Our findings reveal a molecular pathway underpinning glia-dependent phagocytosis in a peripheral sense-organ, and demonstrate that glia actively engulf neuron-fragments, with profound consequences on neuron shape and animal behavior. ### Competing Interest Statement The authors have declared no competing interest.

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