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Anesthesiology. 1999 Feb;90(2):545-54.

GAS-1: a mitochondrial protein controls sensitivity to volatile anesthetics in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans.

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  • 1Department of Anesthesiology, University Hospitals and Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio 44106, USA.



Mutations in several genes of Caenorhabditis elegans confer altered sensitivities to volatile anesthetics. A mutation in one gene, gas-1(fc21), causes animals to be immobilized at lower concentrations of all volatile anesthetics than in the wild-type, and it does not depend on mutations in other genes to control anesthetic sensitivity. gas-1 confers different sensitivities to stereoisomers of isoflurane, and thus may be a direct target for volatile anesthetics. The authors have cloned and characterized the gas-1 gene and the mutant allele fc21.


Genetic techniques for nematodes were as previously described. Polymerase chain reaction, sequencing, and other molecular biology techniques were performed by standard methods. Mutant rescue was done by injecting DNA fragments into the gonad of mutant animals and scoring the offspring for loss of the mutant phenotype.


The gas-1 gene was cloned and identified. The protein GAS-1 is a homologue of the 49-kDa (IP) subunit of the mitochondrial NADH:ubiquinone-oxidoreductase (complex I of the respiratory chain). gas-1(fc21) is a missense mutation replacing a strictly conserved arginine with lysine.


The function of the 49-kDa (IP) subunit of complex I is unknown. The finding that mutations in complex I increase sensitivity of C elegans to volatile anesthetics may implicate this physiologic process in the determination of anesthetic sensitivity. The hypersensitivity of animals with a mutation in the gas-1 gene may be caused by a direct anesthetic effect on a mitochondrial protein or secondary effects at other sites caused by mitochondrial dysfunction.

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