Academic Appointments

  • Basic Life Research Scientist, Biology

All Publications

  • Endoplasmic Reticulum Exit Sites scale with somato-dendritic size in neurons. Molecular biology of the cell Land, R., Fetter, R., Liang, X., Tzeng, C. P., Taylor, C. A., Shen, K. 2023: mbcE23030090


    Nervous systems exhibit dramatic diversity in cell morphology and size. How neurons regulate their biosynthetic and secretory machinery to support such diversity is not well understood. Endoplasmic reticulum exit sites (ERESs) are essential for maintaining secretory flux, and are required for normal dendrite development, but how neurons of different size regulate secretory capacity remains unknown. In C. elegans, we find that the ERES number is strongly correlated with the size of a neuron's dendritic arbor. The elaborately branched sensory neuron, PVD, has especially high ERES numbers. Asymmetric cell division provides PVD with a large initial cell size critical for rapid establishment of PVD's high ERES number before neurite outgrowth, and these ERESs are maintained throughout development. Maintenance of ERES number requires the cell fate transcription factor MEC-3, C. elegans TOR (ceTOR/let-363), and nutrient availability, with mec-3 and ceTOR/let-363 mutant PVDs both displaying reductions in ERES number, soma size, and dendrite size. Notably, mec-3 mutant animals exhibit reduced expression of a ceTOR/let-363 reporter in PVD, and starvation reduces ERES number and somato-dendritic size in a manner genetically redundant with ceTOR/let-363 perturbation. Our data suggest that both asymmetric cell division and nutrient sensing pathways regulate secretory capacities to support elaborate dendritic arbors.

    View details for DOI 10.1091/mbc.E23-03-0090

    View details for PubMedID 37556208

  • Endocytosis in the axon initial segment maintains neuronal polarity. Nature Eichel, K., Uenaka, T., Belapurkar, V., Lu, R., Cheng, S., Pak, J. S., Taylor, C. A., Sudhof, T. C., Malenka, R., Wernig, M., Ozkan, E., Perrais, D., Shen, K. 2022


    Neurons are highly polarized cells that face the fundamental challenge of compartmentalizing a vast and diverse repertoire of proteins in order to function properly1. The axon initial segment (AIS) is a specialized domain that separates a neuron's morphologically, biochemically and functionally distinct axon and dendrite compartments2,3. How the AIS maintains polarity between these compartments is not fully understood. Here we find that in Caenorhabditis elegans, mouse, rat and human neurons, dendritically and axonally polarized transmembrane proteins are recognized by endocytic machinery in the AIS, robustly endocytosed and targeted to late endosomes for degradation. Forcing receptor interaction with the AIS master organizer, ankyrinG, antagonizes receptor endocytosis in the AIS, causes receptor accumulation in the AIS, and leads to polarity deficits with subsequent morphological and behavioural defects. Therefore, endocytic removal of polarized receptors that diffuse into the AIS serves as a membrane-clearance mechanism thatis likely to work in conjunction with the known AIS diffusion-barrier mechanism to maintain neuronal polarity on the plasma membrane. Our results reveal a conserved endocytic clearance mechanism in the AIS to maintain neuronal polarity by reinforcing axonal and dendritic compartment membrane boundaries.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/s41586-022-05074-5

    View details for PubMedID 35978188

  • A Myt1 family transcription factor defines neuronal fate by repressing non-neuronal genes. eLife Lee, J., Taylor, C. A., Barnes, K. M., Shen, A., Stewart, E. V., Chen, A., Xiang, Y. K., Bao, Z., Shen, K. 2019; 8


    Cellular differentiation requires both activation of target cell transcriptional programs and repression of non-target cell programs. The Myt1 family of zinc finger transcription factors contributes to fibroblast to neuron reprogramming in vitro. Here, we show that ztf-11 (Zinc-finger Transcription Factor-11), the sole Caenorhabditis elegans Myt1 homolog, is required for neurogenesis in multiple neuronal lineages from previously differentiated epithelial cells, including a neuron generated by a developmental epithelial-to-neuronal transdifferentiation event. ztf-11 is exclusively expressed in all neuronal precursors with remarkable specificity at single-cell resolution. Loss of ztf-11 leads to upregulation of non-neuronal genes and reduced neurogenesis. Ectopic expression of ztf-11 in epidermal lineages is sufficient to produce additional neurons. ZTF-11 functions together with the MuvB corepressor complex to suppress the activation of non-neuronal genes in neurons. These results dovetail with the ability of Myt1l (Myt1-like) to drive neuronal transdifferentiation in vitro in vertebrate systems. Together, we identified an evolutionarily conserved mechanism to specify neuronal cell fate by repressing non-neuronal genes.

    View details for DOI 10.7554/eLife.46703

    View details for PubMedID 31386623

  • RAB-10 Regulates Dendritic Branching by Balancing Dendritic Transport. PLoS genetics Taylor, C. A., Yan, J., Howell, A. S., Dong, X., Shen, K. 2015; 11 (12): e1005695


    The construction of a large dendritic arbor requires robust growth and the precise delivery of membrane and protein cargoes to specific subcellular regions of the developing dendrite. How the microtubule-based vesicular trafficking and sorting systems are regulated to distribute these dendritic development factors throughout the dendrite is not well understood. Here we identify the small GTPase RAB-10 and the exocyst complex as critical regulators of dendrite morphogenesis and patterning in the C. elegans sensory neuron PVD. In rab-10 mutants, PVD dendritic branches are reduced in the posterior region of the cell but are excessive in the distal anterior region of the cell. We also demonstrate that the dendritic branch distribution within PVD depends on the balance between the molecular motors kinesin-1/UNC-116 and dynein, and we propose that RAB-10 regulates dendrite morphology by balancing the activity of these motors to appropriately distribute branching factors, including the transmembrane receptor DMA-1.

    View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pgen.1005695

    View details for PubMedID 26633194

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4669152

  • The unfolded protein response is required for dendrite morphogenesis ELIFE Wei, X., Howell, A. S., Dong, X., Taylor, C. A., Cooper, R. C., Zhang, J., Zou, W., Sherwood, D. R., Shen, K. 2015; 4


    Precise patterning of dendritic fields is essential for the formation and function of neuronal circuits. During development, dendrites acquire their morphology by exuberant branching. How neurons cope with the increased load of protein production required for this rapid growth is poorly understood. Here we show that the physiological unfolded protein response (UPR) is induced in the highly branched Caenorhabditis elegans sensory neuron PVD during dendrite morphogenesis. Perturbation of the IRE1 arm of the UPR pathway causes loss of dendritic branches, a phenotype that can be rescued by overexpression of the ER chaperone HSP-4 (a homolog of mammalian BiP/grp78). Surprisingly, a single transmembrane leucine-rich repeat protein, DMA-1, plays a major role in the induction of the UPR and the dendritic phenotype in the UPR mutants. These findings reveal a significant role for the physiological UPR in the maintenance of ER homeostasis during morphogenesis of large dendritic arbors.

    View details for DOI 10.7554/eLife.06963

    View details for Web of Science ID 000357338000001

    View details for PubMedID 26052671

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4484204