Source: Using an advanced microscopy technique, researchers discovered the role adhesion molecules play in guiding neurons into their correct location.
In a new study, Yale researchers used an advanced microscopy technique that allowed them to follow a single neuron in the embryo of a worm as it found its neurological home.
The research team, led by Titas Sengupta, working in the lab of Daniel Colón-Ramos, the Dorys McConnell Duberg Professor of Neuroscience and Cell Biology, found that adhesion molecules grab onto neurons which then are essentially pulled into a specific layer or neighborhood and are “zippered” into place.
The findings were published in the journal eLife.
In a video, Colón-Ramos describes what the technology revealed.
“What we’re able to do with this microscope is track those events as they’re actually occurring and ascribe specific genetic functions to these molecules that we’re identifying in that sequence of events,” he said.
These insights, he said, will help scientists determine the molecular roots of many early developmental diseases.
About this neuroscience research news
Author: Press Office Source: Yale Contact: Press Office – Yale Image: The image is credited to the researchers
Differential adhesion regulates neurite placement via a retrograde zippering mechanism
During development, neurites and synapses segregate into specific neighborhoods or layers within nerve bundles.
The developmental programs guiding placement of neurites in specific layers, and hence their incorporation into specific circuits, are not well understood. We implement novel imaging methods and quantitative models to document the embryonic development of the C. elegans brain neuropil, and discover that differential adhesion mechanisms control precise placement of single neurites onto specific layers.
Differential adhesion is orchestrated via developmentally regulated expression of the IgCAM SYG-1, and its partner ligand SYG-2. Changes in SYG-1 expression across neuropil layers result in changes in adhesive forces, which sort SYG-2-expressing neurons. Sorting to layers occurs, not via outgrowth from the neurite tip, but via an alternate mechanism of retrograde zippering, involving interactions between neurite shafts.
Our study indicates that biophysical principles from differential adhesion govern neurite placement and synaptic specificity in vivo in developing neuropil bundles.