Caenorhabditis elegans uses chemosensation to determine its course of development. Young larvae can arrest as dauer larvae in response to increasing population density, which they measure by a nematode-excreted pheromone, and decreasing food supply. Dauer larvae can resume development in response to a decrease in pheromone and increase in food concentration. We show here that two novel G protein alpha subunits (GPA-2 and GPA-3) show promoter activity in subsets of chemosensory neurons and are involved in the decision to form dauer larvae primarily through the response to dauer pheromone. Dominant activating mutations in these G proteins result in constitutive, pheromone-independent dauer formation, whereas inactivation results in reduced sensitivity to pheromone, and, under certain conditions, an alteration in the response to food. Interactions between gpa-2, gpa-3 and other genes controlling dauer formation suggest that these G proteins may act in parallel to regulate the neuronal decision making that precedes dauer formation.
- Received August 8, 1996.
- Accepted December 2, 1996.
- Copyright © 1997 by the Genetics Society of America