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EMBO J. 2012 Feb 1;31(3):667-78. doi: 10.1038/emboj.2011.422. Epub 2011 Nov 29.

Monoamines and neuropeptides interact to inhibit aversive behaviour in Caenorhabditis elegans.

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  • 1Department of Biological Sciences, University of Toledo, Toledo, OH 43606, USA.

Abstract

Pain modulation is complex, but noradrenergic signalling promotes anti-nociception, with α(2)-adrenergic agonists used clinically. To better understand the noradrenergic/peptidergic modulation of nociception, we examined the octopaminergic inhibition of aversive behaviour initiated by the Caenorhabditis elegans nociceptive ASH sensory neurons. Octopamine (OA), the invertebrate counterpart of norepinephrine, modulates sensory-mediated reversal through three α-adrenergic-like OA receptors. OCTR-1 and SER-3 antagonistically modulate ASH signalling directly, with OCTR-1 signalling mediated by Gα(o). In contrast, SER-6 inhibits aversive responses by stimulating the release of an array of 'inhibitory' neuropeptides that activate receptors on sensory neurons mediating attraction or repulsion, suggesting that peptidergic signalling may integrate multiple sensory inputs to modulate locomotory transitions. These studies highlight the complexity of octopaminergic/peptidergic interactions, the role of OA in activating global peptidergic signalling cascades and the similarities of this modulatory network to the noradrenergic inhibition of nociception in mammals, where norepinephrine suppresses chronic pain through inhibitory α(2)-adrenoreceptors on afferent nociceptors and stimulatory α(1)-receptors on inhibitory peptidergic interneurons.

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