Control of larval development by chemosensory neurons in Caenorhabditis elegans

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Science  08 Mar 1991:
Vol. 251, Issue 4998, pp. 1243-1246
DOI: 10.1126/science.2006412


Larval development of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans is controlled by the activities of four classes of chemosensory neurons. The choice between normal development and development into a specialized larval form called a dauer larva is regulated by competing environmental stimuli: food and a dauer pheromone. When the neuron classes ADF, ASG, ASI, and ASJ are killed, animals develop as dauer larvae regardless of environmental conditions. These neurons might sense food or dauer pheromone, or both, to initiate the specialized differentiation of many cell types that occurs during dauer formation. Entry into and exit from the dauer stage are primarily controlled by different chemosensory neurons. The analysis of mutants defective in dauer formation indicates that the chemosensory neurons are active in the absence of sensory inputs and that dauer pheromone inhibits the ability of these neurons to generate a signal necessary for normal development.

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