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Glia Are Essential for Sensory Organ Function in C. elegans

Science
31 Oct 2008
Vol 322, Issue 5902
pp. 744-747

Abstract

Sensory organs are composed of neurons, which convert environmental stimuli to electrical signals, and glia-like cells, whose functions are not well understood. To decipher glial roles in sensory organs, we ablated the sheath glial cell of the major sensory organ of Caenorhabditis elegans. We found that glia-ablated animals exhibit profound sensory deficits and that glia provide activities that affect neuronal morphology, behavior generation, and neuronal uptake of lipophilic dyes. To understand the molecular bases of these activities, we identified 298 genes whose messenger RNAs are glia-enriched. One gene, fig-1, encodes a labile protein with conserved thrombospondin TSP1 domains. FIG-1 protein functions extracellularly, is essential for neuronal dye uptake, and also affects behavior. Our results suggest that glia are required for multiple aspects of sensory organ function.

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We thank C. Bargmann and S. Chalasani for their generous help with G-CaMP imaging, N. Pokala for the ASH-ChR2 strain and advice on assays, H. Fares for a DT-A plasmid, S. Mazel for help with fluorescence-activated cell sorting, S. Mitani for the tm2079 allele, A. North for help with microscopy, E. Nudleman for the thermotaxis apparatus, Shaham laboratory members for comments on the project and manuscript, and C. Bargmann, P. Sengupta, O. Hobert, and E. Jorgensen for strains. S.S. is a Klingenstein Fellow in the Neurosciences.

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Published In

Science
Volume 322 | Issue 5902
31 October 2008

Submission history

Received: 10 July 2008
Accepted: 18 September 2008
Published in print: 31 October 2008

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Notes

Supporting Online Material
www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/322/5902/744/DC1
Materials and Methods
Figs S1 to S7
Table S1 and S2
References

Authors

Affiliations

Taulant Bacaj*
Laboratory of Developmental Genetics, The Rockefeller University, 1230 York Avenue, New York, NY 10065, USA.
Maya Tevlin*
Laboratory of Developmental Genetics, The Rockefeller University, 1230 York Avenue, New York, NY 10065, USA.
Yun Lu
Laboratory of Developmental Genetics, The Rockefeller University, 1230 York Avenue, New York, NY 10065, USA.
Shai Shaham
Laboratory of Developmental Genetics, The Rockefeller University, 1230 York Avenue, New York, NY 10065, USA.

Notes

To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: [email protected]

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