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EMBO J. 2005 Jan 12;24(1):63-72. Epub 2004 Dec 2.

In vivo imaging of C. elegans ASH neurons: cellular response and adaptation to chemical repellents.

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Division of Biology, University of California, San Diego, CA 92093-0359, USA.

Erratum in

  • EMBO J. 2005 Apr 6;24(7):1489.


ASH sensory neurons are required in Caenorhabditis elegans for a wide range of avoidance behaviors in response to chemical repellents, high osmotic solutions and nose touch. The ASH neurons are therefore hypothesized to be polymodal nociceptive neurons. To understand the nature of polymodal sensory response and adaptation at the cellular level, we expressed the calcium indicator protein cameleon in ASH and analyzed intracellular Ca(2+) responses following stimulation with chemical repellents, osmotic shock and nose touch. We found that a variety of noxious stimuli evoked strong responses in ASH including quinine, denatonium, detergents, heavy metals, both hyper- and hypo-osmotic shock and nose touch. We observed that repeated chemical stimulation led to a reversible reduction in the magnitude of the sensory response, indicating that adaptation occurs within the ASH sensory neuron. A key component of ASH adaptation is GPC-1, a G-protein gamma-subunit expressed specifically in chemosensory neurons. We hypothesize that G-protein gamma-subunit heterogeneity provides a mechanism for repellent-specific adaptation, which could facilitate discrimination of a variety of repellents by these polymodal sensory neurons.

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