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Genes Brain Behav. 2011 Apr;10(3):286-98. doi: 10.1111/j.1601-183X.2010.00667.x. Epub 2011 Jan 10.

PKC-1 acts with the ERK MAPK signaling pathway to regulate Caenorhabditis elegans mechanosensory response.

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Massachusetts General Hospital, Center for Cancer Research, Charlestown, MA, USA.


In most animals, multiple genes encode protein kinase C (PKC) proteins. Pharmacological studies have revealed numerous roles for this protein family, yet the in vivo roles of specific PKC proteins and the functional targets of PKC activation are poorly understood. We find that in Caenorhabditis elegans, two PKC genes, pkc-1 and tpa-1, are required for mechanosensory response; the role of the nPKCε/η ortholog, pkc-1, was examined in detail. pkc-1 function is required for response to nose touch in adult C. elegans and pkc-1 likely acts in the interneurons that regulate locomotion which are direct synaptic targets of mechanosensory neurons. Previous studies have suggested numerous possible targets of pkc-1; our analysis indicates that pkc-1 may act via the extracellular signal-regulated kinase/mitogen-activated protein kinase (ERK/MAPK) pathway. We find that ERK/MAPK pathway function is required for mechanosensory response in C. elegans and that at least one component of this pathway, lin-45 Raf, acts in interneurons of the mechanosensory circuit. Genetic analysis indicates that lin-45 and pkc-1 act together to regulate nose touch response. Thus, these results functionally link two conserved signaling pathways in adult C. elegans neurons and define distinct roles for PKC genes in vivo.

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