How circuits assemble starting from stem cells is a fundamental question in developmental neurobiology. We test the hypothesis that, in neuronal stem cells, temporal transcription factors predictably control neuronal terminal features and circuit assembly. Using the Drosophila motor system, we manipulate expression of the classic temporal transcription factor, Hunchback (Hb) specifically in the NB7-1 stem cell, which produces U motor neurons (MNs), and then we monitor dendrite morphology and neuromuscular synaptic partnerships. We find that prolonged expression of Hb leads to transient specification of U MN identity, and that embryonic molecular markers do not accurately predict U MN terminal features. Nonetheless, our data show Hb acts as a potent regulator of neuromuscular wiring decisions. These data introduce important refinements to current models, show that molecular information acting early in neurogenesis as a switch to control motor circuit wiring and provide novel insight into the relationship between stem cell and circuit.
All data generated or analysed during this study are included in the manuscript and supporting files.
- Ellie S Heckscher
- Julia L Meng
- Julia L Meng
- Ellie S Heckscher
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
- Oliver Hobert, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Columbia University, United States
© 2019, Meng et al.
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.
A growing body of evidence suggests that cell division and basement membrane invasion are mutually exclusive cellular behaviors. How cells switch between proliferative and invasive states is not well understood. Here, we investigated this dichotomy in vivo by examining two cell types in the developing Caenorhabditis elegans somatic gonad that derive from equipotent progenitors, but exhibit distinct cell behaviors: the post-mitotic, invasive anchor cell and the neighboring proliferative, non-invasive ventral uterine (VU) cells. We show that the fates of these cells post-specification are more plastic than previously appreciated and that levels of NHR-67 are important for discriminating between invasive and proliferative behavior. Transcription of NHR-67 is downregulated following post-translational degradation of its direct upstream regulator, HLH-2 (E/Daughterless) in VU cells. In the nuclei of VU cells, residual NHR-67 protein is compartmentalized into discrete punctae that are dynamic over the cell cycle and exhibit liquid-like properties. By screening for proteins that colocalize with NHR-67 punctae, we identified new regulators of uterine cell fate maintenance: homologs of the transcriptional co-repressor Groucho (UNC-37 and LSY-22), as well as the TCF/LEF homolog POP-1. We propose a model in which the association of NHR-67 with the Groucho/TCF complex suppresses the default invasive state in non-invasive cells, which complements transcriptional regulation to add robustness to the proliferative-invasive cellular switch in vivo.
Imaging experiments reveal the complex and dynamic nature of the transcriptional hubs associated with Notch signaling.