Caenorhabditis elegansq Regulates Egg-Laying Behavior via a PLCβ-Independent and Serotonin-Dependent Signaling Pathway and Likely Functions Both in the Nervous System and in Muscle
Carol A. Bastiani, Shahla Gharib, Melvin I. Simon, Paul W. Sternberg

Abstract

egl-30 encodes the single C. elegans ortholog of vertebrate Gαq family members. We analyzed the expression pattern of EGL-30 and found that it is broadly expressed, with highest expression in the nervous system and in pharyngeal muscle. We isolated dominant, gain-of-function alleles of egl-30 as intragenic revertants of an egl-30 reduction-of-function mutation. Using these gain-of-function mutants and existing reduction-of-function mutants, we examined the site and mode of action of EGL-30. On the basis of pharmacological analysis, it has been determined that egl-30 functions both in the nervous system and in the vulval muscles for egg-laying behavior. Genetic epistasis over mutations that eliminate detectable levels of serotonin reveals that egl-30 requires serotonin to regulate egg laying. Furthermore, pharmacological response assays strongly suggest that EGL-30 may directly couple to a serotonin receptor to mediate egg laying. We also examined genetic interactions with mutations in the gene that encodes the single C. elegans homolog of PLCβ and mutations in genes that encode signaling molecules downstream of PLCβ. We conclude that PLCβ functions in parallel with egl-30 with respect to egg laying or is not the major effector of EGL-30. In contrast, PLCβ-mediated signaling is likely downstream of EGL-30 with respect to pharyngeal-pumping behavior. Our data indicate that there are multiple signaling pathways downstream of EGL-30 and that different pathways could predominate with respect to the regulation of different behaviors.

  • Received August 20, 2002.
  • Accepted September 8, 2003.
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