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J Neurosci. 2011 Nov 16;31(46):16603-10. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4018-11.2011.

A seven-transmembrane receptor that mediates avoidance response to dihydrocaffeic acid, a water-soluble repellent in Caenorhabditis elegans.

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Department of Molecular Pharmacology and Neurobiology, Yokohama City University, Graduate School of Medicine, Yokohama 236-0004, Japan.


The ability to detect harmful chemicals rapidly is essential for the survival of all animals. In Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans), repellents trigger an avoidance response, causing animals to move away from repellents. Dihydrocaffeic acid (DHCA) is a water-soluble repellent and nonflavonoid catecholic compound that can be found in plant products. Using a Xenopus laevis (X. laevis) oocyte expression system, we identified a candidate dihydrocaffeic acid receptor (DCAR), DCAR-1. DCAR-1 is a novel seven-transmembrane protein that is expressed in the ASH avoidance sensory neurons of C. elegans. dcar-1 mutant animals are defective in avoidance response to DHCA, and cell-specific expression of dcar-1 in the ASH neurons of dcar-1 mutant animals rescued the defect in avoidance response to DHCA. Our findings identify DCAR-1 as the first seven-transmembrane receptor required for avoidance of a water-soluble repellent, DHCA, in C. elegans.

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