Ardalan Hendi, Long-Gang Niu, Andrew William Snow, Richard Ikegami, Zhao-Wen Wang, Kota Mizumoto. 2022. Channel-independent function of UNC-9/INX in spatial arrangement of GABAergic synapses in C. elegans. bioRxiv
Precise synaptic connection of neurons with their targets is essential for the proper functioning of the nervous system. A plethora of signaling pathways act in concert to mediate the precise spatial arrangement of synaptic connections. Here we show a novel role for a gap junction protein in controlling tiled synaptic arrangement in the GABAergic motor neurons in C. elegans, in which their axons and synapses overlap minimally with their neighboring neurons within the same class. We found that while EGL-20/Wnt controls axonal tiling, their presynaptic tiling is mediated by a gap junction protein UNC-9/Innexin, that is localized at the presynaptic tiling border between neighboring DD neurons. Strikingly, the gap junction channel activity of UNC-9 is dispensable for its function in controlling tiled presynaptic patterning. While gap junctions are crucial for the proper functioning of the nervous system as channels, our finding uncovered the novel channel-independent role of UNC-9 in synapse patterning.