Abstract

The regulation of chemoreceptor (CR) gene expression by environmental signals and internal cues may contribute to the modulation of multiple physiological processes and behavior in Caenorhabditis elegans. We previously showed that KIN-29, a homolog of salt-inducible kinase, acts in sensory neurons to regulate the expression of a subset of CR genes, as well as sensory behaviors. Here we show that the cGMP-dependent protein kinase EGL-4 acts partly in parallel with KIN-29 to regulate CR gene expression. Sensory inputs inhibit both EGL-4 and KIN-29 functions, and KIN-29 function is inhibited in turn by cAMP-dependent protein kinase (PKA) activation. EGL-4 and KIN-29 regulate CR gene expression by antagonizing the gene repression functions of the class II HDAC HDA-4 and the MEF-2 transcription factor, and KIN-29, EGL-4, and PKA target distinct residues in HDA-4 to regulate its function and subcellular localization. While KIN-29 acts primarily via MEF-2/HDA-4 to regulate additional sensory signal-regulated physiological processes and behaviors, EGL-4 acts via both MEF-2-dependent and -independent pathways. Our results suggest that integration of complex sensory inputs via multiple signaling pathways allows animals to precisely regulate sensory gene expression, thereby appropriately modulating physiology and behavior.

Footnotes

  • Communicating editor: M. Nonet

  • Received August 1, 2008.
  • Accepted September 15, 2008.
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