NEURODEVELOPMENT

Sticky order for neurites

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Science  05 Oct 2018:
Vol. 362, Issue 6410, pp. 42-43
DOI: 10.1126/science.362.6410.42-e

Nematode nerve cells are bundled in a specific order.

IMAGE: HEITI PAVES/ALAMY STOCK PHOTO

How do biological systems assemble in an ordered way, particularly in complex organs like the brain? One idea is that order emerges from multiple simple, local interactions. To explore this question, Yip and Heiman examined the organization of the sensory neurons of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. The amphid sense organ sends processes to the anterior of the worm to detect environmental conditions. The dendrites that make up these nerves are bundled in an ordered manner. Close to the nose, one dendrite occupies the middle of the bundle. A little further away from the nose, this dendrite cedes the middle track to another dendrite. The ordering is determined by cell-adhesion molecules expressed by the neurons themselves. The stereotypical organization of dendrite order might facilitate nonsynaptic signaling across dendrites.

eLife 7, e35825 (2018).

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