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Nat Neurosci. 2003 Nov;6(11):1178-85. Epub 2003 Oct 12.

Inhibition of Caenorhabditis elegans social feeding by FMRFamide-related peptide activation of NPR-1.

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MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Hills Road, Cambridge CB2 2QH, UK.


Social and solitary feeding in natural Caenorhabditis elegans isolates are associated with two alleles of the orphan G-protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) NPR-1: social feeders contain NPR-1 215F, whereas solitary feeders contain NPR-1 215V. Here we identify FMRFamide-related neuropeptides (FaRPs) encoded by the flp-18 and flp-21 genes as NPR-1 ligands and show that these peptides can differentially activate the NPR-1 215F and NPR-1 215V receptors. Multicopy overexpression of flp-21 transformed wild social animals into solitary feeders. Conversely, a flp-21 deletion partially phenocopied the npr-1(null) phenotype, which is consistent with NPR-1 activation by FLP-21 in vivo but also implicates other ligands for NPR-1. Phylogenetic studies indicate that the dominant npr-1 215V allele likely arose from an ancestral npr-1 215F gene in C. elegans. Our data suggest a model in which solitary feeding evolved in an ancestral social strain of C. elegans by a gain-of-function mutation that modified the response of NPR-1 to FLP-18 and FLP-21 ligands.

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