Development genes and evolution

Drosophila Shep and C. elegans SUP-26 are RNA-binding proteins that play diverse roles in nervous system development.

PMID 26271810


The Caenorhabditis elegans gene sup-26 encodes a well-conserved RNA-recognition motif-containing RNA-binding protein (RBP) that functions in dendrite morphogenesis of the PVD sensory neuron. The Drosophila ortholog of sup-26, alan shepard (shep), is expressed throughout the nervous system and has been shown to regulate neuronal remodeling during metamorphosis. Here, we extend these studies to show that sup-26 and shep are required for the development of diverse cell types within the nematode and fly nervous systems during embryonic and larval stages. We ascribe roles for sup-26 in regulating dendrite number and the expression of genes involved in mechanosensation within the nematode peripheral nervous system. We also find that in Drosophila, shep regulates dendrite length and branch order of nociceptive neurons, regulates the organization of neuronal clusters of the peripheral nervous system and the organization of axons within the ventral nerve cord. Taken together, our results suggest that shep/sup-26 orthologs play diverse roles in neural development across animal species. Moreover, we discuss potential roles for shep/sup-26 orthologs in the human nervous system.