LIM homeobox gene-dependent expression of biogenic amine receptors in restricted regions of the C. elegans nervous system

Dev Biol. 2003 Nov 1;263(1):81-102. doi: 10.1016/s0012-1606(03)00447-0.


Biogenic amines regulate a variety of behaviors. Their functions are predominantly mediated through G-protein-coupled 7-transmembrane domain receptors (GPCR), 16 of which are predicted to exist in the genome sequence of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. We describe here the expression pattern of several of these aminergic receptors, including two serotonin receptors (ser-1 and ser-4), one tyramine receptor (ser-2), and two dopamine receptors (dop-1 and dop-2). Moreover, we describe distinct but partially overlapping expression patterns of different splice forms of the ser-2 tyramine receptor locus. We find that each of the aminergic receptor genes is expressed in restricted regions of the nervous system and that many of them reveal significant overlap with the expression of regulatory factors of the LIM homeobox (Lhx) gene family. We demonstrate that the expression of several of the biogenic amine receptors is abrogated in specific cell types in Lhx gene mutants, thus establishing a role for these Lhx genes in regulating aspects of neurotransmission. We extend these findings with other cell fate markers and show that the lim-4 Lhx gene is required for several but not all aspects of RID motor neuron differentiation and that the lim-6 Lhx gene is required for specific aspects of RIS interneuron differentiation. We also use aminergic receptor gfp reporter fusions as tools to visualize the anatomy of specific neurons in Lhx mutant backgrounds and find that the development of the elaborate dendritic branching pattern of the PVD harsh touch sensory neuron requires the mec-3 Lhx gene. Lastly, we analyze a mutant allele of the ser-2 tyramine receptor, a target of the ttx-3 Lhx gene in the AIY interneuron class. ser-2 mutants display none of the defects previously shown to be associated with loss of AIY function.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Animals
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / genetics
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / metabolism*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins / genetics*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins / physiology
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Chromosome Mapping
  • Gene Expression
  • Homeodomain Proteins / genetics*
  • Homeodomain Proteins / physiology
  • Interneurons / physiology
  • LIM-Homeodomain Proteins
  • Motor Neurons / physiology
  • Neuropeptides / physiology
  • Receptors, Biogenic Amine / genetics*
  • Receptors, Dopamine / genetics
  • Receptors, Serotonin / genetics
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / genetics*
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / physiology
  • Transcription Factors / genetics*
  • Transcription Factors / physiology


  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins
  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • LIM-Homeodomain Proteins
  • Lim-4 protein, C elegans
  • Lim-6 protein, C elegans
  • Neuropeptides
  • Receptors, Biogenic Amine
  • Receptors, Dopamine
  • Receptors, Serotonin
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • TTX-3 protein, C elegans
  • Transcription Factors
  • mec-3 protein, C elegans
  • tyramine receptor