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Publication Detail
Glia-derived neurons are required for sex-specific learning in C. elegans
  • Publication Type:
    Journal article
  • Publication Sub Type:
    Article
  • Authors:
    Sammut M, Cook SJ, Nguyen KCQ, Felton T, Hall DH, Emmons SW, Poole RJ, Barrios A
  • Publisher:
    Nature Publishing Group
  • Publication date:
    15/10/2015
  • Journal:
    Nature
  • Status:
    Accepted
  • Country:
    UK
  • Keywords:
    Learning, transdifferentiation, glia, C. elegans, sexual dimorphism
  • Publisher URL:
  • Addresses:
    Michele Sammut
    University College London
    Cell and Developmental Biology
    Gower St
    London
    WC1E 6BT
    United Kingdom

    Steven J. Cook
    Albert Einstein College of Medicine
    Dominick P. Purpura Department of Neuroscience
    Bronx
    New York
    NY 10461
    United States

    Ken C.Q. Nguyen
    Albert Einstein College of Medicine
    Dominick P. Purpura Department of Neuroscience
    Bronx
    New York
    NY 10461
    United States

    Terry Felton
    University College London
    Cell and Developmental Biology
    London
    WC1E 6BT
    United Kingdom

    David H. Hall
    Albert Einstein College of Medicine
    Dominick P. Purpura Department of Neuroscience
    Bronx
    New York
    NY 10461
    United States

    Scott W. Emmons
    Albert Einstein College of Medicine
    Dominick P. Purpura Department of Neuroscience; Genetics
    Bronx
    New York
    NY10461
    United States

    Richard J. Poole
    University College London
    Cell and Developmental Biology
    London
    WC1E 6BT
    United Kingdom

    Arantza Barrios
    University College London
    Cell and Developmental Biology
    London
    WC1E 6BT
    United Kingdom
Abstract
Sex differences in behaviour extend to cognitive-like processes such as learning but the underlying dimorphisms in neural circuit development and organization that generate these behavioural differences are largely unknown. Here we define at the single-cell level, from development, through neural circuit connectivity, to function, the neural basis of a sex-specific learning in the nematode C. elegans. We show that sexual conditioning, a form of associative learning, requires a pair of male-specific interneurons whose progenitors are fully differentiated glia. These neurons are born during sexual maturation and incorporated into pre-exisiting sex-shared circuits to couple chemotactic responses to reproductive priorities. Our findings reveal a general role for glia as neural progenitors across metazoan taxa and demonstrate that the addition of sex-specific neuron types to brain circuits during sexual maturation is an important mechanism for the generation of sexually dimorphic plasticity in learning.
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