Natural polymorphisms in C. elegans HECW-1 E3 ligase affect pathogen avoidance behaviour
Author(s)Chang, Howard C.; Paek, Jennifer; Kim, Dennis H.
MetadataShow full item record
Heritable variation in behavioural traits generally has a complex genetic basis1, and thus naturally occurring polymorphisms that influence behaviour have been defined in only rare instances2,3. The isolation of wild strains of Caenorhabditis elegans has facilitated the study of natural genetic variation in this species4 and provided insights into its diverse microbial ecology5. C. elegans responds to bacterial infection with conserved innate immune responses6-8 and, while lacking the immunological memory of vertebrate adaptive immunity, exhibits an aversive learning response to pathogenic bacteria9. Here, we report the molecular characterization of naturally occurring coding polymorphisms in a C. elegans gene encoding a conserved HECT domain-containing E3 ubiquitin ligase, HECW-1. We show that two distinct polymorphisms in neighbouring residues of HECW-1 each affect C. elegans behavioural avoidance of a lawn of Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Neuronspecific rescue and ablation experiments, and genetic interaction analysis suggest that HECW-1 functions in a pair of sensory neurons to inhibit P. aeruginosa lawn avoidance behaviour through inhibition of the neuropeptide receptor NPR-110, which we have previously shown promotes P. aeruginosa lawn avoidance behaviour11. Our data establish a molecular basis for natural variation in a C. elegans behaviour that may undergo adaptive changes in response to microbial pathogens.
available in PMC 2012 June 22.
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Biology
Nature Publishing Group
Chang, Howard C., Jennifer Paek, and Dennis H. Kim. “Natural Polymorphisms in C. Elegans HECW-1 E3 Ligase Affect Pathogen Avoidance Behaviour.” Nature 480.737 (2011): 525–529.
Author's final manuscript