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Neuroendocrine Modulation Sustains the C. elegans Forward Motor State

By Maria A. Lim, Jyothsna Chitturi, Valeriya Laskova, Jun Meng, Daniel Findeis, Anne Wiekenberg, Ben Mulcahy, Linjiao Luo, Yan Li, Yangning Lu, Wesley Hung, Yixin Qu, Chi-Yip Ho, Douglas Holmyard, Ni Ji, Rebecca McWhirter, Aravinthan D. T. Samuel, David M. Miller, Ralf Schnabel, John A. Calarco, Mei Zhen

Posted 23 Jul 2016
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/065235 (published DOI: 10.7554/eLife.19887)

Neuromodulators shape neural circuit dynamics. Combining electron microscopy, genetics, transcriptome profiling, calcium imaging, and optogenetics, we discovered a peptidergic neuron that modulates C. elegans motor circuit dynamics. The Six/SO-family homeobox transcription factor UNC-39 governs lineage-specific neurogenesis to give rise to a neuron RID. RID bears the anatomic hallmarks of a specialized endocrine neuron: it harbors near-exclusive dense core vesicles that cluster periodically along the axon, and expresses multiple neuropeptides, including the FMRF-amide-related FLP-14. RID activity increases during forward movement. Ablating RID reduces the sustainability of forward movement, a phenotype partially recapitulated by removing FLP-14. Optogenetic depolarization of RID prolongs forward movement, an effect reduced in the absence of FLP-14. Together, these results establish the role of a neuroendocrine cell RID in sustaining a specific behavioral state in C. elegans.

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