Caenorhabditis elegans shows chemoattraction to 0.1-200 mM NaCl, avoidance of higher NaCl concentrations, and avoidance of otherwise attractive NaCl concentrations after prolonged exposure to NaCl (gustatory plasticity). Previous studies have shown that the ASE and ASH sensory neurons primarily mediate attraction and avoidance of NaCl, respectively. Here we show that balances between at least four sensory cell types, ASE, ASI, ASH, ADF and perhaps ADL, modulate the response to NaCl. Our results suggest that two NaCl-attraction signalling pathways exist, one of which uses Ca(2+)/cGMP signalling. In addition, we provide evidence that attraction to NaCl is antagonised by G-protein signalling in the ASH neurons, which is desensitised by the G-protein-coupled receptor kinase GRK-2. Finally, the response to NaCl is modulated by G-protein signalling in the ASI and ADF neurons, a second G-protein pathway in ASH and cGMP signalling in neurons exposed to the body fluid.

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EMBO Journal
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Hukema, R., Rademakers, S., Dekkers, M., Burghoorn, J., & Jansen, G. (2006). Antagonistic sensory cues generate gustatory plasticity in Caenorhabditis elegans. EMBO Journal, 25(2), 312–322. doi:10.1038/sj.emboj.7600940