Neurotransmitter identity is a key identity feature of a mature neuron. Neurotransmitter identities had previously only been incompletely mapped and we complemented these earlier mapping effort by a comprehensive mapping of neurotransmitter identity throughout the entire C.elegans nervous system (Figure 1 and Figure 2). The neurotransmitter maps that we established provide a resource for ensuing functional and developmental studies. For example, we used the map of all glutamaterigic, cholinergic and GABAergic neurons to identify regulatory factors required for neurotransmitter specification (Serrano-Saiz et al., 2013, Pereira et al., 2015 and Gendrel et al., 2016.)
Mapping neurotransmitter identity in the nervous system of the male, which contains almost 30% more neurons than the nervous system of the hermaphrodite, we also revealed sexual dimorphisms in neurotransmitter usage (Serrano-Saiz et al., 2017). Molecular maps of sexual dimorphisms are rare in any system to date and provide entry points for future studies on the genetic control of sexual dimorphisms.
Figure 1 legend: Neurotransmitter map covering >90% of all neurons in the C.elegans nervous system.
Movie rendering generated by Chris Grove (openworm.org). Red = ACh, Blue = GABA, Mint = Glutamate, Green = Aminergic