C. elegans bicd-1, homolog of the Drosophila dynein accessory factor Bicaudal D, regulates the branching of PVD sensory neuron dendrites

Cristina Aguirre-Chen, Hannes E. Bülow, Zaven Kaprielian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

30 Scopus citations


The establishment of cell type-specific dendritic arborization patterns is a key phase in the assembly of neuronal circuitry that facilitates the integration and processing of synaptic and sensory input. Although studies in Drosophila and vertebrate systems have identified a variety of factors that regulate dendrite branch formation, the molecular mechanisms that control this process remain poorly defined. Here, we introduce the use of the Caenorhabditis elegans PVD neurons, a pair of putative nociceptors that elaborate complex dendritic arbors, as a tractable model for conducting high-throughput RNAi screens aimed at identifying key regulators of dendritic branch formation. By carrying out two separate RNAi screens, a small-scale candidate-based screen and a large-scale screen of the ∼3000 genes on chromosome IV, we retrieved 11 genes that either promote or suppress the formation of PVD-associated dendrites. We present a detailed functional characterization of one of the genes, bicd-1, which encodes a microtubule-associated protein previously shown to modulate the transport of mRNAs and organelles in a variety of organisms. Specifically, we describe a novel role for bicd-1 in regulating dendrite branch formation and show that bicd-1 is likely to be expressed, and primarily required, in PVD neurons to control dendritic branching. We also present evidence that bicd-1 operates in a conserved pathway with dhc-1 and unc-116, components of the dynein minus-end-directed and kinesin-1 plus-enddirected microtubule-based motor complexes, respectively, and interacts genetically with the repulsive guidance receptor unc-5.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)507-518
Number of pages12
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 1 2011



  • Bicaudal D
  • Caenorhabditis elegans
  • Dendrite morphogenesis
  • PVD

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology

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