Glia-derived neurons are required for sex-specific learning in C. elegans

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Author list: Sammut M, Cook SJ, Nguyen KCQ, Felton T, Hall DH, Emmons SW, Poole RJ, Barrios A
Publisher: Nature Research (part of Springer Nature)
Publication year: 2015
Volume number: 526
Issue number: 7573
Start page: 385
End page: +
ISSN: 0028-0836
Languages: English-Great Britain (EN-GB)


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 Caenorhabditis 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 generated 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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Last updated on 2019-23-08 at 11:16