Genetic analysis of halothane sensitivity in Caenorhabditis elegans

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Science  22 May 1987:
Vol. 236, Issue 4804, pp. 952-954
DOI: 10.1126/science.3576211


The nematode Caenorhabditis elegans appears to be a useful model for studying the action of volatile anesthetics. A mutant strain that is hypersensitive to the widely used anesthetic halothane was described earlier. The mutation is now shown to be an allele of unc-79. Other alleles of unc-79 are also associated with hypersensitivity to halothane. A strain with a mutation in a second gene, unc-80, is also hypersensitive to halothane. Nematodes bearing mutations in both unc-79 and unc-80 are slightly more sensitive to halothane than those bearing only one of these mutations. Mutations in a third gene, unc-9, suppress both unc-79 and unc-80. Nematodes bearing the suppressor mutations alone have normal sensitivity to halothane. These results show that sensitivity to halothane can be altered by mutations in several different genes.