Identification of Caenorhabditis elegans genes required for neuronal differentiation and migration

Genetics. 1998 Jan;148(1):151-65.


To understand the mechanisms that guide migrating cells, we have been studying the embryonic migrations of the C. elegans canal-associated neurons (CANs). Here, we describe two screens used to identify genes involved in CAN migration. First, we screened for mutants that died as clear larvae (Clr) or had withered tails (Wit), phenotypes displayed by animals lacking normal CAN function. Second, we screened directly for mutants with missing or misplaced CANs. We isolated and characterized 30 mutants that defined 14 genes necessary for CAN migration. We found that one of the genes, ceh-10, specifies CAN fate. ceh-10 had been defined molecularly as encoding a homeodomain protein expressed in the CANs. Mutations that reduce ceh-10 function result in Wit animals with CANs that are partially defective in their migrations. Mutations that eliminate ceh-10 function result in Clr animals with CANs that fail to migrate or express CEH-23, a CAN differentiation marker. Null mutants also fail to express CEH-10, suggesting that CEH-10 regulates its own expression. Finally, we found that ceh-10 is necessary for the differentiation of AIY and RMED, two additional cells that express CEH-10.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / embryology*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / genetics
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins* / genetics
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Movement
  • Genes, Helminth / genetics*
  • Genes, Helminth / physiology
  • Genetic Complementation Test
  • Homeodomain Proteins* / genetics
  • Mutation
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Phenotype


  • CEH-23 protein, C elegans
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins
  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • ceh-10 protein, C elegans