The Heterochronic Gene lin-14 Controls Axonal Degeneration in C. elegans Neurons

Fiona K. Ritchie, Rhianna Knable, Justin Chaplin, Rhiannon Gursanscky, Maria Gallegos, Brent Neumann, Massimo A Hilliard

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4 Citations (Scopus)


The disproportionate length of an axon makes its structural and functional maintenance a major task for a neuron. The heterochronic gene lin-14 has previously been implicated in regulating the timing of key developmental events in the nematode C. elegans. Here, we report that LIN-14 is critical for maintaining neuronal integrity. Animals lacking lin-14 display axonal degeneration and guidance errors in both sensory and motor neurons. We demonstrate that LIN-14 functions both cell autonomously within the neuron and non-cell autonomously in the surrounding tissue, and we show that interaction between the axon and its surrounding tissue is essential for the preservation of axonal structure. Furthermore, we demonstrate that lin-14 expression is only required during a short period early in development in order to promote axonal maintenance throughout the animal's life. Our results identify a crucial role for LIN-14 in preventing axonal degeneration and in maintaining correct interaction between an axon and its surrounding tissue.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2955-2965
Number of pages11
JournalCell Reports
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 19 Sept 2017


  • axonal degeneration
  • axonal embedment
  • C. elegans
  • epidermis
  • heterochronic gene
  • hypodermis
  • LIN-14
  • mechanosensory neurons
  • motor neurons

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