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J Mol Biol. 2004 Feb 20;336(3):579-87.

The C. elegans ceh-36 gene encodes a putative homemodomain transcription factor involved in chemosensory functions of ASE and AWC neurons.

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Department of Biology, Faculty of Sciences, Kyushu University Graduate School, 6-10-1 Hakozaki, Higashi-Ku, Fukuoka 812-8581, Japan.


Chemotaxis to water-soluble chemicals such as sodium ion is an important behavior of Caenorhabditis elegans for seeking food, and ASE chemosensory neurons have a major role in this behavior. We isolated mutants defective in chemotaxis to sodium acetate. We show here that among them ks86 had a mutation in the ceh-36 gene. ceh-36 :: gfp reporter constructs were expressed in ASE and AWC neurons. In a mutant of the che-1 gene, which encodes another transcription factor and is required for specification of ASE neurons, expression of the ceh-36 :: gfp reporter in ASE is lost. This indicates that the ceh-36 gene functions downstream of the che-1 gene in ASE. In the ceh-36(ks86) mutant, expression of the tax-2 gene encoding a cyclic nucleotide-gated channel was reduced in ASE and AWC. This affords an explanation for defects of the ceh-36 mutant in the chemotaxis mediated by ASE and AWC. When a ceh-36 cDNA was expressed in an adult ceh-36 mutant by a heat shock promoter, chemotaxis to sodium acetate was recovered. These results suggest that ceh-36 is required for functions, and not for development, of ASE.

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