Control of type-D GABAergic neuron differentiation by C. elegans UNC-30 homeodomain protein

Nature. 1994 Dec 22-29;372(6508):780-3. doi: 10.1038/372780a0.


The Caenorhabditis elegans gene unc-30 is required for the development and functioning of the 19 inhibitory GABAergic (gamma-aminobutyric-acid-secreting) type D motor neurons, which control locomotion. In unc-30 mutants the D neurons lack GABA and have defects in axonal pathfinding and synaptic connections (J. White, personal communication). We report here that unc-30 encodes a homeodomain protein that is present in the nuclei of the D neurons at high levels in young larvae, in which the motor circuitry is formed, and at low levels in older animals. The UNC-30 protein is also present in six non-GABAergic neurons and is absent from the seven non-D-type GABAergic neurons. Ectopic expression of unc-30 induced GABA expression in cells that are normally not GABAergic. We propose that unc-30 functions as a transcriptional regulator within the type D neurons to control their terminal differentiation and that unc-30 is sufficient in some but not all cell types to induce GABA expression.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / cytology*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / genetics
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins*
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • DNA, Helminth
  • Escherichia coli
  • Helminth Proteins / genetics
  • Helminth Proteins / physiology*
  • Homeodomain Proteins / genetics
  • Homeodomain Proteins / physiology*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Neurons / cytology*
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Nuclear Proteins*
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / metabolism


  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins
  • DNA, Helminth
  • Helminth Proteins
  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • unc-30 protein, C elegans
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid

Associated data

  • GENBANK/L37867