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Genes Brain Behav. 2016 Apr;15(4):429-40. doi: 10.1111/gbb.12260. Epub 2015 Nov 13.

A glial K(+) /Cl(-) cotransporter modifies temperature-evoked dynamics in Caenorhabditis elegans sensory neurons.

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Division of Biological Science, Graduate School of Science, Nagoya University, Nagoya, Aichi, Japan.
JST ERATO Higashiyama Live-Holonics Project, Nagoya University, Nagoya, Aichi, Japan.
Present address: College of Bioscience and Biotechnology, Chubu University, Kasugai, Aichi, Japan.
Center for Gene Research, Nagoya University, Nagoya, Aichi, Japan.
Institute of Transformative Bio-Molecules (ITbM), Nagoya University, Nagoya, Aichi, Japan.


K(+) /Cl(-) cotransporters (KCCs) are known to be crucial in the control of neuronal electrochemical Cl(-) gradient. However, the role of these proteins in glial cells remains largely unexplored despite a number of studies showing expression of KCC proteins in glial cells of many species. Here, we show that the Caenorhabditis elegans K(+) /Cl(-) cotransporter KCC-3 is expressed in glial-like cells and regulates the thermosensory behavior through modifying temperature-evoked activity of a thermosensory neuron. Mutations in the kcc-3 gene were isolated from a genetic screen for mutants defective in thermotaxis. KCC-3 is expressed and functions in the amphid sheath glia that ensheathes the AFD neuron, a major thermosensory neuron known to be required for thermotaxis. A genetic analysis indicated that the regulation of the thermosensory behavior by KCC-3 is mediated through AFD, and we further show that KCC-3 in the amphid sheath glia regulates the dynamics of the AFD activity. Our results show a novel mechanism by which the glial KCC-3 protein non-cell autonomously modifies the stimulus-evoked activity of a sensory neuron and highlights the functional importance of glial KCC proteins in modulating the dynamics of a neural circuitry to control an animal behavior.


AFD neuron; Caenorhabditis elegans; amphid sheath; behavior; glia; neural circuit; neuronal activity; potassium-chloride cotransporter; temperature sensing; thermotaxis

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