cnd-1/NeuroD1 functions with the homeobox gene ceh-5/Vax2 and hox gene ceh-13/labial to specify aspects of RME and DD neuron fate in caenorhabditis elegans
Molecular and Cellular Biology
Copyright © 2020 Aquino-Nunez et al. Identifying the mechanisms behind neuronal fate specification are key to understanding normal neural development in addition to neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism and schizophrenia. In vivo cell fate specification is difficult to study in vertebrates. However, the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, with its invariant cell lineage and simple nervous system of 302 neurons, is an ideal organism to explore the earliest stages of neural development. We used a comparative transcriptome approach to examine the role of cnd-1/NeuroD1 in C. elegans nervous system development and function. This basic helix-loop-helix transcription factor is deeply conserved across phyla and plays a crucial role in cell fate specification in both the vertebrate nervous system and pancreas. We find that cnd-1 controls expression of ceh-5, a Vax2-like homeobox class transcription factor, in the RME head motorneurons and PVQ tail interneurons. We also show that cnd-1 functions redundantly with the Hox gene ceh-13/labial in defining the fate of DD1 and DD2 embryonic ventral nerve cord motorneurons. These data highlight the utility of comparative transcriptomes for identifying transcription factor targets and understanding gene regulatory networks.
G3: Genes, Genomes, Genetics
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