Dendrite morphogenesis in Caenorhabditis elegans

Genetics. 2024 Jun 5;227(2):iyae056. doi: 10.1093/genetics/iyae056.


Since the days of Ramón y Cajal, the vast diversity of neuronal and particularly dendrite morphology has been used to catalog neurons into different classes. Dendrite morphology varies greatly and reflects the different functions performed by different types of neurons. Significant progress has been made in our understanding of how dendrites form and the molecular factors and forces that shape these often elaborately sculpted structures. Here, we review work in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans that has shed light on the developmental mechanisms that mediate dendrite morphogenesis with a focus on studies investigating ciliated sensory neurons and the highly elaborated dendritic trees of somatosensory neurons. These studies, which combine time-lapse imaging, genetics, and biochemistry, reveal an intricate network of factors that function both intrinsically in dendrites and extrinsically from surrounding tissues. Therefore, dendrite morphogenesis is the result of multiple tissue interactions, which ultimately determine the shape of dendritic arbors.

Keywords: WormBook; adhesion; cilia; dendrite; development; glia; morphogenesis; sensory; somatosensory.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins / genetics
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins / metabolism
  • Caenorhabditis elegans* / cytology
  • Caenorhabditis elegans* / genetics
  • Caenorhabditis elegans* / growth & development
  • Dendrites* / metabolism
  • Morphogenesis* / genetics
  • Sensory Receptor Cells / cytology
  • Sensory Receptor Cells / metabolism


  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins