Directed migration of neurons is critical in the normal and pathological development of the brain and central nervous system. In Caenorhabditis elegans, the bilateral Q neuroblasts, QR on the right and QL on the left, migrate anteriorly and posteriorly, respectively. Initial protrusion and migration of the Q neuroblasts is autonomously controlled by the transmembrane proteins UNC-40/DCC, PTP-3/LAR, and MIG-21. As QL migrates posteriorly, it encounters and EGL-20/Wnt signal that induces MAB-5/Hox expression that drives QL descendant posterior migration. QR migrates anteriorly away from EGL-20/Wnt and does not activate MAB-5/Hox, resulting in anterior QR descendant migration. A forward genetic screen for new mutations affecting initial Q migrations identified alleles of cdh-4, which caused defects in both QL and QR directional migration similar to unc-40, ptp-3, and mig-21. Previous studies showed that in QL, PTP-3/LAR and MIG-21 act in a pathway in parallel to UNC-40/DCC to drive posterior QL migration. Here we show genetic evidence that CDH-4 acts in the PTP-3/MIG-21 pathway in parallel to UNC-40/DCC to direct posterior QL migration. In QR, the PTP-3/MIG-21 and UNC-40/DCC pathways mutually inhibit each other, allowing anterior QR migration. We report here that CDH-4 acts in both the PTP-3/MIG-21 and UNC-40/DCC pathways in mutual inhibition in QR, and that CDH-4 acts cell-non-autonomously. Interaction of CDH-4 with UNC-40/DCC in QR but not QL represents an inherent left-right asymmetry in the Q cells, the nature of which is not understood. We conclude that CDH-4 might act as a permissive signal for each Q neuroblast to respond differently to anterior-posterior guidance information based upon inherent left-right asymmetries in the Q neuroblasts.
Keywords: Anterior–posterior; C. elegans; CDH-4/Fat; Neuroblast migration; PTP-3/LAR; UNC-40/DCC.
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