The C. elegans D2-like dopamine receptor DOP-3 decreases behavioral sensitivity to the olfactory stimulus 1-octanol

PLoS One. 2010 Mar 2;5(3):e9487. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0009487.


We previously found that dopamine signaling modulates the sensitivity of wild-type C. elegans to the aversive odorant 1-octanol. C. elegans lacking the CAT-2 tyrosine hydroxylase enzyme, which is required for dopamine biosynthesis, are hypersensitive in their behavioral avoidance of dilute concentrations of octanol. Dopamine can also modulate the context-dependent response of C. elegans lacking RGS-3 function, a negative regulator of G alpha signaling. rgs-3 mutant animals are defective in their avoidance of 100% octanol when they are assayed in the absence of food (E. coli bacterial lawn), but their response is restored when they are assayed in the presence of food or exogenous dopamine. However, it is not known which receptor might be mediating dopamine's effects on octanol avoidance. Herein we describe a role for the C. elegans D2-like receptor DOP-3 in the regulation of olfactory sensitivity. We show that DOP-3 is required for the ability of food and exogenous dopamine to rescue the octanol avoidance defect of rgs-3 mutant animals. In addition, otherwise wild-type animals lacking DOP-3 function are hypersensitive to dilute octanol, reminiscent of cat-2 mutants. Furthermore, we demonstrate that DOP-3 function in the ASH sensory neurons is sufficient to rescue the hypersensitivity of dop-3 mutant animals, while dop-3 RNAi knockdown in ASH results in octanol hypersensitivity. Taken together, our data suggest that dopaminergic signaling through DOP-3 normally acts to dampen ASH signaling and behavioral sensitivity to octanol.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 1-Octanol / pharmacology*
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins / chemistry
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins / physiology*
  • Crosses, Genetic
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Models, Biological
  • Mutation
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • RNA Interference
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2 / chemistry
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2 / physiology*
  • Sensory Receptor Cells / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction
  • Smell
  • Transgenes


  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins
  • DOP-3 protein, C elegans
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2
  • 1-Octanol