The diverse cell types and the precise synaptic connectivity between them are the cardinal features of the nervous system. Little is known about how cell fate diversification is linked to synaptic target choices. Here we investigate how presynaptic neurons select one type of muscles, vm2, as a synaptic target and form synapses on its dendritic spine-like muscle arms. We found that the Notch-Delta pathway was required to distinguish target from non-target muscles. APX-1/Delta acts in surrounding cells including the non-target vm1 to activate LIN-12/Notch in the target vm2. LIN-12 functions cell-autonomously to up-regulate the expression of UNC-40/DCC and MADD-2 in vm2, which in turn function together to promote muscle arm formation and guidance. Ectopic expression of UNC-40/DCC in non-target vm1 muscle is sufficient to induce muscle arm extension from these cells. Therefore, the LIN-12/Notch signaling specifies target selection by selectively up-regulating guidance molecules and forming muscle arms in target cells.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Microbiology(all)
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)