Two Caenorhabditis elegans genes, unc-8 and sup-40, have been newly identified, by genetic criteria, as regulating ion channel function in motorneurons. Two dominant unc-8 alleles cause motorneuron swelling similar to that of other neuronal types in dominant mutants of the deg-1 gene family, which is homologous to a mammalian gene family encoding amiloride-sensitive sodium channel subunits. As for previously identified deg-1 family members, unc-8 dominant mutations are recessively suppressed by mutations in the mec-6 gene, which probably encodes a second type of channel component. An unusual dominant mutation, sup-41 (lb125), also co-suppresses unc-8 and deg-1, suggesting the existence of yet another common component of ion channels containing unc-8 or deg-1 subunits. Dominant, transacting, intragenic suppressor mutations have been isolated for both unc-8 and deg-1, consistent with the idea that, like their mammalian homologues, the two gene products function as multimers. The sup-40 (lb130) mutation dominantly suppresses unc-8 motorneuron swelling and produces a novel swelling phenotype in hypodermal nuclei. sup-40 may encode an ion channel component or regulator that can correct the osmotic defect caused by abnormal unc-8 channels.
- Copyright © 1995 by the Genetics Society of America