Neuronal control of locomotion in C. elegans is modified by a dominant mutation in the GLR-1 ionotropic glutamate receptor

Neuron. 1999 Oct;24(2):347-61. doi: 10.1016/s0896-6273(00)80849-1.


How simple neuronal circuits control behavior is not well understood at the molecular or genetic level. In Caenorhabditis elegans, foraging behavior consists of long, forward movements interrupted by brief reversals. To determine how this pattern is generated and regulated, we have developed novel perturbation techniques that allow us to depolarize selected neurons in vivo using the dominant glutamate receptor mutation identified in the Lurcher mouse. Transgenic worms that expressed a mutated C. elegans glutamate receptor in interneurons that control locomotion displayed a remarkable and unexpected change in their behavior-they rapidly alternated between forward and backward coordinated movement. Our findings suggest that the gating of movement reversals is controlled in a partially distributed fashion by a small subset of interneurons and that this gating is modified by sensory input.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence / genetics
  • Animals
  • Animals, Genetically Modified / genetics
  • Animals, Genetically Modified / physiology
  • Apoptosis / physiology
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / genetics*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / physiology*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins*
  • Caspase 1 / genetics
  • Gene Expression / physiology
  • Genes, Dominant / genetics*
  • Interneurons / physiology
  • Ion Channels / metabolism
  • Mechanoreceptors / physiology
  • Membrane Proteins / genetics*
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Mutation / physiology*
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / genetics*
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / metabolism
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Phenotype
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic / physiology
  • Receptors, AMPA
  • Receptors, Glutamate*
  • Sensation / physiology


  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins
  • Ion Channels
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Receptors, AMPA
  • Receptors, Glutamate
  • glr-1 protein, C elegans
  • Caspase 1