C. elegans phototransduction requires a G protein-dependent cGMP pathway and a taste receptor homolog

Jie Liu, Alex Ward, Jingwei Gao, Yongming Dong, Nana Nishio, Hitoshi Inada, Lijun Kang, Yong Yu, Di Ma, Tao Xu, Ikue Mori, Zhixiong Xie, X. Z.Shawn Xu

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119 Citations (Scopus)


The eyeless animal C. elegans is able to sense light and engages in phototaxis behavior that is mediated by photoreceptor cells. However, the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying phototransduction in C. elegans remain largely unclear. By recording the photoreceptor neuron ASJ in wild-type and various mutant worms, we found that phototransduction in ASJ is a G protein-mediated process and requires membrane-associated guanylate cyclases, but not typical phosphodiesterases. In addition, we found that C. elegans phototransduction requires LITE-1, a candidate photoreceptor protein known to be a member of the invertebrate taste receptor family. Our genetic, pharmacological and electrophysiological data suggest a model in which LITE-1 transduces light signals in ASJ via G protein signaling, which leads to upregulation of the second messenger cGMP, followed by opening of cGMP-sensitive CNG channels and stimulation of photoreceptor cells. Our results identify a phototransduction cascade in C. elegans and implicate the function of a 'taste receptor' in phototransduction.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20436480
Pages (from-to)715-722
Number of pages8
JournalNature Neuroscience
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2010
Externally publishedYes

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