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An innexin-dependent cell network establishes left-right neuronal asymmetry in C. elegans.

Gap junctions are widespread in immature neuronal circuits, but their functional significance is poorly understood. We show here that a transient network formed by the innexin gap-junction protein NSY-5 coordinates left-right asymmetry in the developing nervous system of Caenorhabditis elegans. nsy-5 is required for the left and right AWC olfactory neurons to establish stochastic, asymmetric patterns of gene expression during embryogenesis. nsy-5-dependent gap junctions in the embryo transiently connect the AWC cell bodies with those of numerous other neurons. Both AWCs and several other classes of nsy-5-expressing neurons participate in signaling that coordinates left-right AWC asymmetry. The right AWC can respond to nsy-5 directly, but the left AWC requires nsy-5 function in multiple cells of the network. NSY-5 forms hemichannels and intercellular gap-junction channels in Xenopus oocytes, consistent with a combination of cell-intrinsic and network functions. These results provide insight into gap-junction activity in developing circuits.

Pubmed ID: 17512411


  • Chuang CF
  • Vanhoven MK
  • Fetter RD
  • Verselis VK
  • Bargmann CI



Publication Data

May 18, 2007

Associated Grants

  • Agency: NIDCD NIH HHS, Id: R01 DC04089

Mesh Terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Body Patterning
  • Caenorhabditis elegans
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins
  • Calcium Signaling
  • Cell Communication
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Connexins
  • Functional Laterality
  • Gap Junctions
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Nerve Net
  • Nervous System
  • Neurons
  • Olfactory Pathways