Article

Neurexin controls plasticity of a mature, sexually dimorphic neuron

  • Nature volume 553, pages 165170 (11 January 2018)
  • doi:10.1038/nature25192
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Abstract

During development and adulthood, brain plasticity is evident at several levels, from synaptic structure and function to the outgrowth of dendrites and axons. Whether and how sex impinges on neuronal plasticity is poorly understood. Here we show that the sex-shared GABA (γ-aminobutyric acid)-releasing DVB neuron in Caenorhabditis elegans displays experience-dependent and sexually dimorphic morphological plasticity, characterized by the stochastic and dynamic addition of multiple neurites in adult males. These added neurites enable synaptic rewiring of the DVB neuron and instruct a functional switch of the neuron that directly modifies a step of male mating behaviour. Both DVB neuron function and male mating behaviour can be altered by experience and by manipulation of postsynaptic activity. The outgrowth of DVB neurites is promoted by presynaptic neurexin and antagonized by postsynaptic neuroligin, revealing a non-conventional activity and mode of interaction of these conserved, human-disease-relevant factors.

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Acknowledgements

We thank Q. Chen for generating transgenic strains and M. Gendrel for DVB promoter and reporter lines; P. Sengupta, T. G. Drivas, M. Oren-Suissa, and members of the Hobert laboratory for comments on the manuscript; L. R. Garcia and K. Shen for worm strains; and M. VanHoven and D. Colon-Ramos for plasmids. This work was supported by NIH grants from NINDS (M.P.H.:F32NS086285; O.H.:2R37NS039996). O.H. is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. Some strains were provided by the CGC, funded by NIH Office of Research Infrastructure Programs (P40 OD010440).

Author information

Affiliations

  1. 1Department of Biological Sciences, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Columbia University, New York, New York, USA

    • Michael P. Hart
    •  & Oliver Hobert

Authors

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Contributions

M.P.H. and O.H. designed the experiments and wrote the manuscript. M.P.H. performed the experiments.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Michael P. Hart.

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Extended data

Supplementary information

PDF files

  1. 1.

    Life Sciences Reporting Summary

Excel files

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    Supplementary Table 1

    This file contains the strain list.

Videos

  1. 1.

    Spicule Protraction

    A male expressing Ex[lim-6int4::ChR2::yfp] demonstrating spicule muscle contraction upon blue light activation (blue dot indicates 488 nm light exposure).

  2. 2.

    Spicule Protraction

    A male expressing Ex[gar-3b::ChR2::yfp] demonstrating spicule protraction upon blue light activation (blue dot indicates 488 nm light exposure).

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