Data for: Sexually dimorphic architecture and function of a mechanosensory circuit in C. elegans



How sensory perception is processed by the two sexes of an organism is still only partially understood. Despite some evidence for sexual dimorphism in auditory and olfactory perception, whether touch is sensed in a dimorphic manner has not been addressed. Here we find that the neuronal circuit for tail mechanosensation in C. elegans is wired differently in the two sexes and employs a different combination of sex-shared sensory neurons and interneurons in each sex. Reverse genetic screens uncovered cell- and sex-specific functions of the alpha-tubulin mec-12 and the sodium channel tmc-1 in sensory neurons, and of the glutamate receptors nmr-1 and glr-1 in interneurons, revealing the underlying molecular mechanisms that mediate tail mechanosensation. Moreover, we show that only in males, the sex-shared interneuron AVG is strongly activated by tail mechanical stimulation, and accordingly is crucial for their behavioral response. Importantly, sex reversal experiments demonstrate that the sexual identity of AVG determines both the behavioral output of the mechanosensory response and the molecular pathways controlling it. Our results present extensive sexual dimorphism in a mechanosensory circuit at both the cellular and molecular levels.
Date made available22 Sept 2022

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