The mechanisms that pattern and maintain dendritic arbors are key to understanding the principles that govern nervous system assembly. The activity of presynaptic axons has long been known to shape dendrites, but activity-independent functions of axons in this process have remained elusive. Here, we show that in Caenorhabditis elegans, the axons of the ALA neuron control guidance and extension of the 1° dendrites of PVD somatosensory neurons independently of ALA activity. PVD 1° dendrites mimic ALA axon guidance defects in loss-of-function mutants for the extracellular matrix molecule MIG-6/Papilin or the UNC-6/Netrin pathway, suggesting that axon-dendrite adhesion is important for dendrite formation. We found that the SAX-7/L1CAM cell adhesion molecule engages in distinct molecular mechanisms to mediate extensions of PVD 1° dendrites and maintain the ALA-PVD axon-dendritic fascicle, respectively. Thus, axons can serve as critical scaffolds to pattern and maintain dendrites through contact-dependent but activity-independent mechanisms.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Developmental Biology
- Cell Biology