Patterning of sexually dimorphic neurogenesis in the caenorhabditis elegans ventral cord by Hox and TALE homeodomain transcription factors

Dev Dyn. 2014 Jan;243(1):159-71. doi: 10.1002/dvdy.24064.

Abstract

Background: Reproduction in animals requires development of distinct neurons in each sex. In C. elegans, most ventral cord neurons (VCNs) are present in both sexes, with the exception of six hermaphrodite-specific neurons (VCs) and nine pairs of male-specific neurons (CAs and CPs) that arise from analogous precursor cells. How are the activities of sexual regulators and mediators of neuronal survival, division, and fate coordinated to generate sex-specificity in VCNs?

Results: To address this, we have developed a toolkit of VCN markers that allows us to examine sex-specific neurogenesis, asymmetric fates of daughters of a neuroblast division, and regional specification on the anteroposterior axis. Here, we describe the roles of the Hox transcription factors LIN-39 and MAB-5 in promoting survival, differentiation, and regionalization of VCNs. We also find that the TALE class homeodomain proteins CEH-20 and UNC-62 contribute to specification of neurotransmitter fate in males. Furthermore, we identify that VCN sex is determined during the L1 larval stage.

Conclusions: These findings, combined with future analyses made possible by the suite of VCN markers described here, will elucidate how Hox-mediated cell fate decisions and sex determination intersect to influence development of neuronal sex differences.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Patterning / genetics
  • Body Patterning / physiology
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / embryology*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / metabolism*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins / genetics
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Homeodomain Proteins / genetics
  • Homeodomain Proteins / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism*

Substances

  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins
  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • Transcription Factors