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EMBO J. 1997 Oct 1;16(19):5867-79.

avr-15 encodes a chloride channel subunit that mediates inhibitory glutamatergic neurotransmission and ivermectin sensitivity in Caenorhabditis elegans.

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Department of Molecular Biology and Oncology, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, 5323 Harry Hines Blvd, Dallas, TX 75235-9148, USA.


Ivermectin is a widely used anthelmintic drug whose nematocidal mechanism is incompletely understood. We have used Caenorhabditis elegans as a model system to understand ivermectin's effects. We found that the M3 neurons of the C.elegans pharynx form fast inhibitory glutamatergic neuromuscular synapses. avr-15, a gene that confers ivermectin sensitivity on worms, is necessary postsynaptically for a functional M3 synapse and for the hyperpolarizing effect of glutamate on pharyngeal muscle. avr-15 encodes two alternatively spliced channel subunits that share ligand binding and transmembrane domains and are members of the family of glutamate-gated chloride channel subunits. An avr-15-encoded subunit forms a homomeric channel that is ivermectin-sensitive and glutamate-gated. These results indicate that: (i) an ivermectin-sensitive chloride channel mediates fast inhibitory glutamatergic neuromuscular transmission; and (ii) a nematocidal property of ivermectin derives from its activity as an agonist of glutamate-gated chloride channels in essential excitable cells such as those of the pharynx.

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