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J Neurosci. 2012 Feb 8;32(6):1920-31. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2064-11.2012.

Serotonin activates overall feeding by activating two separate neural pathways in Caenorhabditis elegans.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Biology, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas 75390-9148, USA. bomi.song@gmail.com

Abstract

Food intake in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans requires two distinct feeding motions, pharyngeal pumping and isthmus peristalsis. Bacteria, the natural food of C. elegans, activate both feeding motions (Croll, 1978; Horvitz et al., 1982; Chiang et al., 2006). The mechanisms by which bacteria activate the feeding motions are largely unknown. To understand the process, we studied how serotonin, an endogenous pharyngeal pumping activator whose action is triggered by bacteria, activates feeding motions. Here, we show that serotonin, like bacteria, activates overall feeding by activating isthmus peristalsis as well as pharyngeal pumping. During active feeding, the frequencies and the timing of onset of the two motions were distinct, but each isthmus peristalsis was coupled to the preceding pump. We found that serotonin activates the two feeding motions mainly by activating two separate neural pathways in response to bacteria. For activating pumping, the SER-7 serotonin receptor in the MC motor neurons in the feeding organ activated cholinergic transmission from MC to the pharyngeal muscles by activating the Gsα signaling pathway. For activating isthmus peristalsis, SER-7 in the M4 (and possibly M2) motor neuron in the feeding organ activated the G(12)α signaling pathway in a cell-autonomous manner, which presumably activates neurotransmission from M4 to the pharyngeal muscles. Based on our results and previous calcium imaging of pharyngeal muscles (Shimozono et al., 2004), we propose a model that explains how the two feeding motions are separately regulated yet coupled. The feeding organ may have evolved this way to support efficient feeding.

PMID:
22323705
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3463504
Free PMC Article
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