William C Spencer

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The C. elegans genome has been completely sequenced, and the developmental anatomy of this model organism is described at single-cell resolution. Here we utilize strategies that exploit this precisely defined architecture to link gene expression to cell type. We obtained RNAs from specific cells and from each developmental stage using tissue-specific(More)
Polymodal nociceptors detect noxious stimuli, including harsh touch, toxic chemicals and extremes of heat and cold. The molecular mechanisms by which nociceptors are able to sense multiple qualitatively distinct stimuli are not well understood. We found that the C. elegans PVD neurons are mulitidendritic nociceptors that respond to harsh touch and cold(More)
CO(2) is both a critical regulator of animal physiology and an important sensory cue for many animals for host detection, food location, and mate finding. The free-living soil nematode Caenorhabditis elegans shows CO(2) avoidance behavior, which requires a pair of ciliated sensory neurons, the BAG neurons. Using in vivo calcium imaging, we show that CO(2)(More)
Nociceptive neurons innervate the skin with complex dendritic arbors that respond to pain-evoking stimuli such as harsh mechanical force or extreme temperatures. Here we describe the structure and development of a model nociceptor, the PVD neuron of C. elegans, and identify transcription factors that control morphogenesis of the PVD dendritic arbor. The two(More)
Sensory neurons adopt distinct morphologies and functional modalities to mediate responses to specific stimuli. Transcription factors and their downstream effectors orchestrate this outcome but are incompletely defined. Here, we show that different classes of mechanosensory neurons in C. elegans are distinguished by the combined action of the transcription(More)
The transcriptome is the readout of the genome. Identifying common features in it across distant species can reveal fundamental principles. To this end, the ENCODE and modENCODE consortia have generated large amounts of matched RNA-sequencing data for human, worm and fly. Uniform processing and comprehensive annotation of these data allow comparison across(More)
With its fully sequenced genome and simple, well-defined nervous system, the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans offers a unique opportunity to correlate gene expression with neuronal differentiation. The lineal origin, cellular morphology and synaptic connectivity of each of the 302 neurons are known. In many instances, specific behaviors can be attributed to(More)
BACKGROUND Nociception generally evokes rapid withdrawal behavior in order to protect the tissue from harmful insults. Most nociceptive neurons responding to mechanical insults display highly branched dendrites, an anatomy shared by Caenorhabditis elegans FLP and PVD neurons, which mediate harsh touch responses. Although several primary molecular(More)
DNA microarrays provide a powerful method for global analysis of gene expression. The application of this technology to specific cell types and tissues, however, is typically limited by small amounts of available mRNA, thereby necessitating amplification. Here we compare microarray results obtained with two different methods of RNA amplification to profile(More)
UNLABELLED Newborn neurons enter an extended maturation stage, during which they acquire excitability characteristics crucial for development of presynaptic and postsynaptic connectivity. In contrast to earlier specification programs, little is known about the regulatory mechanisms that control neuronal maturation. The Pet-1 ETS (E26(More)