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EMBO J. 2011 Apr 6;30(7):1376-88. doi: 10.1038/emboj.2011.13. Epub 2011 Feb 8.

Bidirectional regulation of thermotaxis by glutamate transmissions in Caenorhabditis elegans.

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Laboratory of Molecular Neurobiology, Division of Biological Science, Department of Molecular Biology, Graduate School of Science, Nagoya University, Nagoya, Aichi, Japan.


In complex neural circuits of the brain, massive information is processed with neuronal communication through synaptic transmissions. It is thus fundamental to delineate information flows encoded by various kinds of transmissions. Here, we show that glutamate signals from two distinct sensory neurons bidirectionally affect the same postsynaptic interneuron, thereby producing the opposite behaviours. EAT-4/VGLUT (vesicular glutamate transporter)-dependent glutamate signals from AFD thermosensory neurons inhibit the postsynaptic AIY interneurons through activation of GLC-3/GluCl inhibitory glutamate receptor and behaviourally drive migration towards colder temperature. By contrast, EAT-4-dependent glutamate signals from AWC thermosensory neurons stimulate the AIY neurons to induce migration towards warmer temperature. Alteration of the strength of AFD and AWC signals led to significant changes of AIY activity, resulting in drastic modulation of behaviour. We thus provide an important insight on information processing, in which two glutamate transmissions encoding opposite information flows regulate neural activities to produce a large spectrum of behavioural outputs.

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