UMMS Affiliation

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

Publication Date


Document Type



Developmental Biology | Neuroscience and Neurobiology


Establishing and maintaining the appropriate number of GABA synapses is key for balancing excitation and inhibition in the nervous system, though we have only a limited understanding of the mechanisms controlling GABA circuit connectivity. Here, we show that disrupting cholinergic innervation of GABAergic neurons in the C. elegans motor circuit alters GABAergic neuron synaptic connectivity. These changes are accompanied by a reduced frequency and increased amplitude of GABAergic synaptic events. Acute genetic disruption in early development-during the integration of post-embryonic born GABAergic neurons into the circuit-produces irreversible effects on GABAergic synaptic connectivity that mimic those produced by chronic manipulations. In contrast, acute genetic disruption of cholinergic signaling in the adult circuit does not reproduce these effects. Our findings reveal that GABAergic signaling is regulated by cholinergic neuronal activity, likely through distinct mechanisms in the developing and mature nervous system.


E/I balance, GABA synapse, Neural circuit, Neural development

Rights and Permissions

© 2017. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd. Publisher PDF posted as allowed by the publisher's license at

DOI of Published Version



Development. 2017 May 15;144(10):1807-1819. doi: 10.1242/dev.141911. Epub 2017 Apr 18. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Development (Cambridge, England)


Belinda Barbagallo, Alison Philbrook, Navonil Banerjee and Devyn Oliver are doctoral students in the Neuroscience Program in the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences (GSBS) at UMass Medical School.

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID




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