Mutually exclusive dendritic arbors in C. elegans neurons share a common architecture and convergent molecular cues

Rebecca J. Androwski, Nadeem Asad, Janet G. Wood, Allison Hofer, Steven Locke, Cassandra M. Smith, Becky Rose, Nathan E. Schroeder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Stress-induced changes to the dendritic architecture of neurons have been demonstrated in numerous mammalian and invertebrate systems. Remodeling of dendrites varies tremendously among neuron types. During the stress-induced dauer stage of Caenorhabditis elegans, the IL2 neurons arborize to cover the anterior body wall. In contrast, the FLP neurons arborize to cover an identical receptive field during reproductive development. Using time-course imaging, we show that branching between these two neuron types is highly coordinated. Furthermore, we find that the IL2 and FLP arbors have a similar dendritic architecture and use an identical downstream effector complex to control branching; however, regulation of this complex differs between stress-induced IL2 branching and FLP branching during reproductive development. We demonstrate that the unfolded protein response (UPR) sensor IRE-1, required for localization of the complex in FLP branching, is dispensable for IL2 branching at standard cultivation temperatures. Exposure of ire-1 mutants to elevated temperatures results in defective IL2 branching, thereby demonstrating a previously unknown genotype by environment interaction within the UPR. We find that the FOXO homolog, DAF-16, is required cell-autonomously to control arborization during stress-induced arborization. Likewise, several aspects of the dauer formation pathway are necessary for the neuron to remodel, including the phosphatase PTEN/DAF-18 and Cytochrome P450/DAF-9. Finally, we find that the TOR associated protein, RAPTOR/DAF-15 regulates mutually exclusive branching of the IL2 and FLP dendrites. DAF-15 promotes IL2 branching during dauer and inhibits precocious FLP growth. Together, our results shed light on molecular processes that regulate stress-mediated remodeling of dendrites across neuron classes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1009029
JournalPLoS genetics
Issue number9
Early online dateSep 30 2020
StatePublished - Sep 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)
  • Cancer Research


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