Novel and conserved protein macoilin is required for diverse neuronal functions in Caenorhabditis elegans

PLoS Genet. 2011 May;7(5):e1001384. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1001384. Epub 2011 May 12.


Neural signals are processed in nervous systems of animals responding to variable environmental stimuli. This study shows that a novel and highly conserved protein, macoilin (MACO-1), plays an essential role in diverse neural functions in Caenorhabditis elegans. maco-1 mutants showed abnormal behaviors, including defective locomotion, thermotaxis, and chemotaxis. Expression of human macoilin in the C. elegans nervous system weakly rescued the abnormal thermotactic phenotype of the maco-1 mutants, suggesting that macoilin is functionally conserved across species. Abnormal thermotaxis may have been caused by impaired locomotion of maco-1 mutants. However, calcium imaging of AFD thermosensory neurons and AIY postsynaptic interneurons of maco-1 mutants suggest that macoilin is required for appropriate responses of AFD and AIY neurons to thermal stimuli. Studies on localization of MACO-1 showed that C. elegans and human macoilins are localized mainly to the rough endoplasmic reticulum. Our results suggest that macoilin is required for various neural events, such as the regulation of neuronal activity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / cytology*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / physiology
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins / chemistry
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins / genetics
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Membrane Proteins / chemistry
  • Membrane Proteins / genetics
  • Membrane Proteins / physiology*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutation
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • Subcellular Fractions / metabolism


  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins
  • Membrane Proteins
  • maco-1 protein, C elegans