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SPCL/R is a neuron in Caenorhabditis elegans.

courtesy of WormAtlas [1]

Basic information

SPCL/R are male bilateral sensory motor neurons found specifically in C. elegans. They are one of three pairs of bilateral neurons (1. SPCL/R 2. SPDL/R and 3. SPVL/R) that are involved in the copulation by the species. SPCL/R specifically innervates copulatory spicules and aid in the full insertion of the spicules to the vulva. This function is accomplished by aiding in the prolonged contractions of the mating muscles (dspL/R and vspL/R).

Neuronal Type: Functions BOTH as a Proprioceptive Neuron and Motor Neuron.


The cell bodies of the SPCL/R are located bilaterally at the choacal ganglia (L/R). The dendrites of the cell bodies are attached (via the hemidesmosomes) to the dorsal spicule protractor muscles (dspL/R). The axon then projects onto both the ventral and dorsal protactor muscles (vspL/R). Only one cell body exist on each side of C. elegans.

Molecular profile

  • Neurotransmitter: Acetylcholine (from the UNC-17 gene) and FMRFamide-like neuropeptides (from the gene FLP-3)

Synaptic Connections

DENDRITES: Attached to the dorsal spicule protractor muscles (dspL/R) AXONS: Innervate the dorsal and ventral protractor muscles (vspL/R)


The innervation of the neuron causes C. elegans to achieve full insertion of his spicules into the female's vulva. This effect is created by the innervation and prolonged contraction of the dspL/R and vspL/R muscles during mating. This behavior can been seen in the video about Male Mating Behavior located here: wormatlas WAmating.mov


Garcia LR, Mehta P, Sternberg PW. (2001) Regulation of distinct muscle behaviors controls the C. elegans male's copulatory spicules during mating, CGC Bibliography Paper, Cell 107: 777-788.

Liu KS, Sternberg PW. (1995) Sensory regulation of male mating behavior in Caenorhabditis elegans, Neuron 14: 79-89.

Additional information

wormatlas.org spc