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

Michele Sammut, Steven J. Cook, Ken C.Q. Nguyen, Terry Felton, David H. Hall, Scott W. Emmons, Richard J. Poole, Arantza Barrios

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

48 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)385-390
Number of pages6
JournalNature
Volume526
Issue number7573
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 14 2015

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Neuroglia
Learning
Neurons
Sexual Maturation
Caenorhabditis elegans
Interneurons
Sex Characteristics
Organizations
Brain

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

Cite this

Glia-derived neurons are required for sex-specific learning in C. Elegans. / Sammut, Michele; Cook, Steven J.; Nguyen, Ken C.Q.; Felton, Terry; Hall, David H.; Emmons, Scott W.; Poole, Richard J.; Barrios, Arantza.

In: Nature, Vol. 526, No. 7573, 14.10.2015, p. 385-390.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Sammut, M, Cook, SJ, Nguyen, KCQ, Felton, T, Hall, DH, Emmons, SW, Poole, RJ & Barrios, A 2015, 'Glia-derived neurons are required for sex-specific learning in C. Elegans', Nature, vol. 526, no. 7573, pp. 385-390. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature15700
Sammut, Michele ; Cook, Steven J. ; Nguyen, Ken C.Q. ; Felton, Terry ; Hall, David H. ; Emmons, Scott W. ; Poole, Richard J. ; Barrios, Arantza. / Glia-derived neurons are required for sex-specific learning in C. Elegans. In: Nature. 2015 ; Vol. 526, No. 7573. pp. 385-390.
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