Characterization of the C. elegans PLM Mechanosensory Neurons at the L1 larval stage
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Axon guidance is the developmental process where developing neurons navigate their processes based on attractive and repulsive cues. C. elegans has been an instrumental model in the study of neurobiology with one of the key benefits being a relatively simple nervous system which comprises of only 302 neurons. The Eph Receptors are a canonical class of axon guidance molecules and in C. elegans there is only Eph receptor VAB-1. To understand axon guidance it is useful to study the mechanosensory neurons, and in particular a pair of neurons called the PLM (Posterior Lateral Microtubule). In this thesis I undertook a series of projects involving new techniques, and identified gene products that may interact with VAB-1 in the PLMs. I demonstrate that the use of the PLM Length and PLM/Body length ratio at the L1 stage offers an improved way of detecting axon guidance phenotypes. I show proof of concept that use of a light induced cell ablation technique can help study the developing nervous system. Further, I show that with the use of a tissue specific RNAi technique the role of lethal genes in axon guidance can be analyzed. Finally I conducted a screen that identified new effectors of the VAB-1 signal transduction pathway.