The C. elegans Tailless/TLX transcription factor nhr-67 controls neuronal identity and left/right asymmetric fate diversification

Development. 2009 Sep;136(17):2933-44. doi: 10.1242/dev.040204. Epub 2009 Jul 29.


An understanding of the molecular mechanisms of cell fate determination in the nervous system requires the elucidation of transcriptional regulatory programs that ultimately control neuron-type-specific gene expression profiles. We show here that the C. elegans Tailless/TLX-type, orphan nuclear receptor NHR-67 acts at several distinct steps to determine the identity and subsequent left/right (L/R) asymmetric subtype diversification of a class of gustatory neurons, the ASE neurons. nhr-67 controls several broad aspects of sensory neuron development and, in addition, triggers the expression of a sensory neuron-type-specific selector gene, che-1, which encodes a zinc-finger transcription factor. Subsequent to its induction of overall ASE fate, nhr-67 diversifies the fate of the two ASE neurons ASEL and ASER across the L/R axis by promoting ASER and inhibiting ASEL fate. This function is achieved through direct expression activation by nhr-67 of the Nkx6-type homeobox gene cog-1, an inducer of ASER fate, that is inhibited in ASEL through the miRNA lsy-6. Besides controlling bilateral and asymmetric aspects of ASE development, nhr-67 is also required for many other neurons of diverse lineage history and function to appropriately differentiate, illustrating the broad and diverse use of this type of transcription factor in neuronal development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Body Patterning / physiology
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins / genetics
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins / metabolism*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans* / cytology
  • Caenorhabditis elegans* / physiology
  • Cell Lineage
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental*
  • Gene Regulatory Networks
  • Genes, Reporter
  • Humans
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Neurogenesis / physiology
  • Neurons / classification
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Phenotype
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear / genetics
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear / metabolism*
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / genetics
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / metabolism
  • Sequence Alignment
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • Two-Hybrid System Techniques


  • Biomarkers
  • CHE-1 protein, C elegans
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins
  • Nhr-67 protein, C elegans
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • Transcription Factors