A retrograde signal is involved in activity-dependent remodeling at a C. elegans neuromuscular junction

Hongjuan Zhao, And Michael L. Nonet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


We have characterized how perturbations of normal synaptic activity influence the morphology of cholinergic SAB motor neurons that innervate head muscle in C. elegans. Mutations disrupting components of the presynaptic release apparatus, acetylcholine (ACh) synthesis or ACh loading into synaptic vesicles each induced sprouting of SAB axonal processes. These sprouts usually arose in the middle of the normal innervation zone and terminated with a single presynaptic varicosity. Sprouting SAB neurons with a similar morphology were also observed upon reducing activity in muscle, either by using mutants lacking a functional nicotinic ACh receptor subunit or through muscle-specific expression of a gain-of-function potassium channel. Analysis of temperature-sensitive mutants in the choline acetyltransferase gene revealed that the sprouting response to inactivity was developmentally regulated; reduction of synaptic activity in early larval stages, but not in late larval stages, induced both sprouting and addition of varicosities. Our results indicate that activity levels regulate the structure of certain synaptic connections between nerve and muscle in C. elegans. One component of this regulatory machinery is a retrograde signal from the postsynaptic cell that mediates the formation of synaptic connections.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1253-1266
Number of pages14
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 1 2000


  • Activity
  • C. elegans
  • Neuromuscular junction
  • Retrograde signal
  • Synaptic plasticity
  • Synaptogenesis


Dive into the research topics of 'A retrograde signal is involved in activity-dependent remodeling at a C. elegans neuromuscular junction'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this