Glia are essential for sensory organ function in C. elegans

Science. 2008 Oct 31;322(5902):744-7. doi: 10.1126/science.1163074.

Abstract

Sensory organs are composed of neurons, which convert environmental stimuli to electrical signals, and glia-like cells, whose functions are not well understood. To decipher glial roles in sensory organs, we ablated the sheath glial cell of the major sensory organ of Caenorhabditis elegans. We found that glia-ablated animals exhibit profound sensory deficits and that glia provide activities that affect neuronal morphology, behavior generation, and neuronal uptake of lipophilic dyes. To understand the molecular bases of these activities, we identified 298 genes whose messenger RNAs are glia-enriched. One gene, fig-1, encodes a labile protein with conserved thrombospondin TSP1 domains. FIG-1 protein functions extracellularly, is essential for neuronal dye uptake, and also affects behavior. Our results suggest that glia are required for multiple aspects of sensory organ function.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / cytology
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / genetics
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / physiology*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins / analysis
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins / chemistry
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins / genetics
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins / physiology*
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Carbocyanines / metabolism
  • Chemotaxis
  • Cilia / chemistry
  • Cilia / ultrastructure
  • Fluorescent Dyes / metabolism
  • Gene Expression
  • Genes, Helminth
  • Neuroglia / physiology*
  • Odorants
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis
  • Osmolar Concentration
  • Sense Organs / physiology
  • Sensory Receptor Cells / cytology
  • Sensory Receptor Cells / physiology*
  • Signal Transduction
  • Sodium Chloride
  • Temperature
  • Thrombospondins / chemistry
  • Thrombospondins / genetics
  • Thrombospondins / physiology*
  • Transcription, Genetic

Substances

  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins
  • Carbocyanines
  • FIG-1 protein, C elegans
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Thrombospondins
  • 3,3'-dioctadecylindocarbocyanine
  • Sodium Chloride
  • Calcium