Axial patterning of C. elegans male sensilla identities by selector genes

R. Lints, L. Jia, K. Kim, C. Li, S. W. Emmons

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


The fan and rays of the C. elegans male tail constitute a compound sensory organ essential for mating. Within this organ, the individual sensilla, known as rays, have unique identities. We show that ray identities are patterned by a selector gene mechanism in a manner similar to other serially homologous axial structures. One selector gene that promotes the identities of a subset of the rays is the Hox gene egl-5. Within EGL-5-expressing rays, further patterning is provided by a Pax-6 homolog and a signal of the TGFβ family. These genes and pathway coordinately specify multiple ray properties affecting all three terminal ray cell types. These properties include complex patterns of FMRFamide-like (FaRP) neuropeptides, serotonin (5HT) and dopamine expression, and ray morphology. Differences in these differentiated characteristics give each sensillum a unique identity and potentially endow the compound ray organ with a higher-order information gathering capacity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)137-151
Number of pages15
JournalDevelopmental Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 1 2004


  • C. elegans
  • Derotonin
  • Dopamine
  • FMRFamide
  • Hox
  • Male
  • Neuron subtype
  • Neurotransmitter
  • Pax-6
  • TGFβ

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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