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Genetics. Sep 2000; 156(1): 123–141.
PMCID: PMC1461244

egl-4 acts through a transforming growth factor-beta/SMAD pathway in Caenorhabditis elegans to regulate multiple neuronal circuits in response to sensory cues.

Abstract

Sensory cues regulate several aspects of behavior and development in Caenorhabditis elegans, including entry into and exit from an alternative developmental stage called the dauer larva. Three parallel pathways, including a TGF-beta-like pathway, regulate dauer formation. The mechanisms by which the activities of these pathways are regulated by sensory signals are largely unknown. The gene egl-4 was initially identified based on its egg-laying defects. We show here that egl-4 has many pleiotropies, including defects in chemosensory behavior, body size, synaptic transmission, and dauer formation. Our results are consistent with a role for egl-4 in relaying sensory cues to multiple behavioral and developmental circuits in C. elegans. By epistasis analysis, we also place egl-4 in the TGF-beta-like branch and show that a SMAD gene functions downstream of egl-4 in multiple egl-4-regulated pathways, including chemosensation.

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