Interneurons, innervated by multiple sensory neurons, need to integrate information from these sensory neurons and respond to sensory stimuli adequately. Mechanisms how sensory information is integrated to form responses of interneurons are not fully understood. In Caenorhabditis elegans, loss-of-function mutations of egl-4, which encodes a cGMP-dependent protein kinase (PKG), cause a defect in chemotaxis to odorants. Our genetic and imaging analyses revealed that the response property of AIY interneuron to an odorant is reversed in the egl-4 mutant, while the responses of two upstream olfactory neurons, AWA and AWC, are largely unchanged. Cell- ablation experiments show that AIY in the egl-4 mutant functions to suppress chemotaxis. Furthermore, the reversal of AIY response occurs only in the presence of sensory signals from both AWA and AWC. These results suggest that sensory signals are inadequately integrated in the egl-4 mutant. We also show that egl-4 expression in AWA and another sensory neuron prevents the reversed AIY response and restores chemotaxis in the egl-4 mutants. We propose that EGL-4/PKG, by suppressing aberrant integration of signals from olfactory neurons, converts the response property of an interneuron to olfactory stimuli and maintains the role of the interneuron in the circuit to execute chemotactic behavior.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cell Biology