The inositol trisphosphate receptor regulates a 50-second behavioral rhythm in C. elegans

Cell. 1999 Sep 17;98(6):757-67. doi: 10.1016/s0092-8674(00)81510-x.


The C. elegans defecation cycle is characterized by the contraction of three distinct sets of muscles every 50 s. Our data indicate that this cycle is regulated by periodic calcium release mediated by the inositol trisphosphate receptor (IP3 receptor). Mutations in the IP3 receptor slow down or eliminate the cycle, while overexpression speeds up the cycle. The IP3 receptor controls these periodic muscle contractions nonautonomously from the intestine. In the intestinal cells, calcium levels oscillate with the same period as the defecation cycle and peak calcium levels immediately precede the first muscle contraction. Mutations in the IP3 receptor slow or eliminate these calcium oscillations. Thus, the IP3 receptor is an essential component of the timekeeper for this cycle and represents a novel mechanism for the control of behavioral rhythms.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / physiology*
  • Calcium Channels / genetics
  • Calcium Channels / metabolism*
  • Calcium Signaling
  • Defecation / physiology*
  • Eliminative Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Genes, Helminth
  • Inositol 1,4,5-Trisphosphate Receptors
  • Intestines / physiology
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mosaicism
  • Muscle Contraction / physiology*
  • Mutation
  • Pedigree
  • Periodicity*
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear / genetics
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear / metabolism*
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid


  • Calcium Channels
  • Inositol 1,4,5-Trisphosphate Receptors
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear

Associated data

  • GENBANK/AF168688