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Neuron. 1999 Oct;24(2):347-61.

Neuronal control of locomotion in C. elegans is modified by a dominant mutation in the GLR-1 ionotropic glutamate receptor.

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Department of Biology, University of Utah, Salt Lake City 84112, USA.


How simple neuronal circuits control behavior is not well understood at the molecular or genetic level. In Caenorhabditis elegans, foraging behavior consists of long, forward movements interrupted by brief reversals. To determine how this pattern is generated and regulated, we have developed novel perturbation techniques that allow us to depolarize selected neurons in vivo using the dominant glutamate receptor mutation identified in the Lurcher mouse. Transgenic worms that expressed a mutated C. elegans glutamate receptor in interneurons that control locomotion displayed a remarkable and unexpected change in their behavior-they rapidly alternated between forward and backward coordinated movement. Our findings suggest that the gating of movement reversals is controlled in a partially distributed fashion by a small subset of interneurons and that this gating is modified by sensory input.

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