Diverse behavioural defects caused by mutations in Caenorhabditis elegans unc-43 CaM kinase II

Nature. 1999 Nov 11;402(6758):199-203. doi: 10.1038/46072.


Calcium/calmodulin-dependent serine/threonine kinase type II (CaMKII) is one of the most abundant proteins in the mammalian brain, where it is thought to regulate synaptic plasticity and other processes. Activation of the multisubunit kinase by calcium is effectively cooperative and can persist long after transient calcium rises. Despite extensive biochemical characterization of CaMKII and identification of numerous in vitro kinase targets, little is known about its function in vivo. Here we report that unc-43 encodes the only Caenorhabditis elegans CaMKII. A gain-of-function unc-43 mutation reduces locomotory activity, alters excitation of three muscle types and lengthens the period of the motor output of a behavioural clock. Null unc-43 mutations cause phenotypes generally opposite to those of the gain-of-function mutation. Mutations in the unc-103 potassium channel gene suppress a gain-of-function phenotype of unc-43 in one tissue without affecting other tissues; thus, UNC-103 may be a tissue-specific target of CaMKII in vivo.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Biological Clocks / physiology
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / enzymology
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / genetics
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / physiology*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins
  • Calcium-Calmodulin-Dependent Protein Kinase Type 2
  • Calcium-Calmodulin-Dependent Protein Kinases / genetics
  • Calcium-Calmodulin-Dependent Protein Kinases / physiology*
  • Defecation / physiology
  • Female
  • Locomotion / physiology
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Muscle Contraction / physiology
  • Mutation
  • Oviposition / physiology
  • Phosphorylation
  • Potassium Channels / metabolism
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid


  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins
  • Potassium Channels
  • Calcium-Calmodulin-Dependent Protein Kinase Type 2
  • Calcium-Calmodulin-Dependent Protein Kinases
  • unc-43 protein, C elegans

Associated data

  • GENBANK/AF180735