Disruption of a Neuropeptide Gene, flp-1, Causes Multiple Behavioral Defects in Caenorhabditis elegans

Science  11 Sep 1998:
Vol. 281, Issue 5383, pp. 1686-1690
DOI: 10.1126/science.281.5383.1686

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Neuropeptides serve as important signaling molecules in the nervous system. The FMRFamide (Phe-Met-Arg-Phe-amide)–related neuropeptide gene family in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans is composed of at least 18 genes that may encode 53 distinct FMRFamide-related peptides. Disruption of one of these genes,flp-1, causes numerous behavioral defects, including uncoordination, hyperactivity, and insensitivity to high osmolarity. Conversely, overexpression of flp-1 results in the reciprocal phenotypes. On the basis of epistasis analysis,flp-1 gene products appear to signal upstream of a G protein–coupled second messenger system. These results demonstrate that varying the levels of FLP-1 neuropeptides can profoundly affect behavior and that members of this large neuropeptide gene family are not functionally redundant in C. elegans.

  • * Present address: Axys Pharmaceuticals, 180 Kimball Way, South San Francisco, CA 94080, USA.

  • Present address: Elan Pharmaceuticals, 3760 Haven Avenue, Menlo Park, CA 94025, USA.

  • To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: li{at}

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