The circuit structure and function underlying post-coital male behaviors remain poorly understood. Using mutant analysis, laser ablation, optogenetics and Ca2+ imaging, we observed that following C. elegans male copulation, the duration of post-coital lethargy is coupled to cellular events involved in ejaculation. We show that the SPV and SPD spicule-associated sensory neurons and the spicule socket neuronal support cells function with intromission circuit components, including the cholinergic SPC and PCB and the glutamatergic PCA sensory-motor neurons, to coordinate sex muscle contractions with initiation and continuation of sperm movement. Our observations suggest that the SPV and SPD and their associated dopamine-containing socket cells sense the intrauterine environment through cellular endings exposed at the spicule tips and regulate both sperm release into the hermaphrodite and the recovery from post-coital lethargy.
- Peggy Mason, University of Chicago, United States
© 2014, LeBoeuf et al.
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