The aging brain undergoes structural changes that affect brain homeostasis, neuronal function and consequently cognition. The complex architecture of dendritic arbors poses a challenge to understanding age-dependent morphological alterations, behavioral plasticity and remodeling following brain injury. Here, we use the PVD polymodal neurons of C. elegans as a model to study how aging affects neuronal plasticity. Using confocal live imaging of C. elegans PVD neurons, we demonstrate age-related progressive morphological alterations of intricate dendritic arbors. We show that mutations in daf-2, which encodes an insulin-like growth factor receptor ortholog, fail to inhibit the progressive morphological aging of dendrites and do not prevent the minor decline in response to harsh touch during aging. We uncovered that PVD aging is characterized by a major decline in the regenerative potential of dendrites following experimental laser dendrotomy. Furthermore, the remodeling of transected dendritic trees by AFF-1-mediated self-fusion can be restored in old animals by daf-2 mutations, and can be differentially re-established by ectopic expression of the fusion protein AFF-1. Thus, ectopic expression of the fusogen AFF-1 in the PVD and mutations in daf-2 differentially rejuvenate some aspects of dendritic regeneration following injury.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- !!Molecular Biology
- !!Developmental Biology