UMass Chan Medical School Faculty Publications

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Neurobiology; Alkema Lab; Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Program in Neuroscience

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Article Preprint


Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience | Nervous System | Neuroscience and Neurobiology


Central pattern generators are cell- or network-driven oscillators that underlie motor rhythmicity. The existence and identity of C. elegans CPGs remain unknown. Through cell ablation, electrophysiology, and calcium imaging, we identified oscillators for reverse locomotion. We show that the cholinergic and excitatory class A motor neurons exhibit intrinsic and oscillatory activity, and such an activity can drive reverse locomotion without premotor interneurons. Regulation of their oscillatory activity, either through effecting an endogenous constituent of oscillation, the P/Q/N high voltage-activated calcium channel UNC-2, or, via dual regulation, inhibition and activation, by the descending premotor interneurons AVA, determines the propensity, velocity, and sustention of reverse locomotion. Thus, the reversal motor executors themselves serve as oscillators; regulation of their intrinsic activity controls the reversal motor state. These findings exemplify anatomic and functional compression: motor executors integrate the role of rhythm generation in a locomotor network that is constrained by small cell numbers.


neuroscience, motor neurons, oscillators, reverse locomotion

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The copyright holder for this preprint (which was not peer-reviewed) is the author/funder. It is made available under a CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 International license.

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bioRxiv 135418; doi: Link to preprint on bioRxiv service.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.