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Neuron. 2012 Mar 8;73(5):925-40. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2011.12.037.

CYSL-1 interacts with the O2-sensing hydroxylase EGL-9 to promote H2S-modulated hypoxia-induced behavioral plasticity in C. elegans.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Department of Biology, and McGovern Institute for Brain Research, MIT, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.


The C. elegans HIF-1 proline hydroxylase EGL-9 functions as an O(2) sensor in an evolutionarily conserved pathway for adaptation to hypoxia. H(2)S accumulates during hypoxia and promotes HIF-1 activity, but how H(2)S signals are perceived and transmitted to modulate HIF-1 and animal behavior is unknown. We report that the experience of hypoxia modifies a C. elegans locomotive behavioral response to O(2) through the EGL-9 pathway. From genetic screens to identify novel regulators of EGL-9-mediated behavioral plasticity, we isolated mutations of the gene cysl-1, which encodes a C. elegans homolog of sulfhydrylases/cysteine synthases. Hypoxia-dependent behavioral modulation and H(2)S-induced HIF-1 activation require the direct physical interaction of CYSL-1 with the EGL-9 C terminus. Sequestration of EGL-9 by CYSL-1 and inhibition of EGL-9-mediated hydroxylation by hypoxia together promote neuronal HIF-1 activation to modulate behavior. These findings demonstrate that CYSL-1 acts to transduce signals from H(2)S to EGL-9 to regulate O(2)-dependent behavioral plasticity in C. elegans.

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