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Two Chemoreceptors Mediate Developmental Effects of Dauer Pheromone in C. elegans

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Science  13 Nov 2009:
Vol. 326, Issue 5955, pp. 994-998
DOI: 10.1126/science.1176331

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Abstract

Intraspecific chemical communication is mediated by signals called pheromones. Caenorhabditis elegans secretes a mixture of small molecules (collectively termed dauer pheromone) that regulates entry into the alternate dauer larval stage and also modulates adult behavior via as yet unknown receptors. Here, we identify two heterotrimeric GTP-binding protein (G protein)–coupled receptors (GPCRs) that mediate dauer formation in response to a subset of dauer pheromone components. The SRBC-64 and SRBC-66 GPCRs are members of the large Caenorhabditis-specific SRBC subfamily and are expressed in the ASK chemosensory neurons, which are required for pheromone-induced dauer formation. Expression of both, but not each receptor alone, confers pheromone-mediated effects on heterologous cells. Identification of dauer pheromone receptors will allow a better understanding of the signaling cascades that transduce the context-dependent effects of ecologically important chemical signals.

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