Integration of spatially opposing cues by a single interneuron guides decision making in C. elegans

Asaf Gat, Vladyslava Pechuk, Sonu Peedikayil Kurien, Gal Sara Goldman, Jazz Lubliner, Shadi Karimi, Michael Krieg, Meital Oren-Suissa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The capacity of animals to integrate and respond to multiple hazardous stimuli in the surroundings is crucial for their survival. In mammals, complex evaluations of the environment require large numbers and different subtypes of neurons. The nematode C. elegans avoid hazardous chemicals they encounter by reversing their direction of movement. How does the worms compact nervous system processes the spatial information and directs the change of motion? We show here that a single interneuron, AVA, receives glutamatergic excitatory signals from head sensory neurons and glutamatergic inhibitory signals from the tail sensory neurons. AVA integrates the spatially distinct and opposing cues, whose output instructs the animals behavioral decision. We further find that the differential activation of AVA from the head and tail stems from distinct anatomical localization of inhibitory and excitatory glutamate-gated receptors along the AVA process, and from different threshold sensitivities of the sensory neurons to aversive stimuli. Our results thus uncover a cellular mechanism that mediates spatial computation of nociceptive cues for efficient decision-making in C. elegans.
Original languageEnglish
Article number113075
Number of pages21
JournalCell Reports
Issue number9
Early online date7 Sep 2023
StatePublished - 26 Sep 2023


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