A method for selective ablation of neurons in C. elegans using the phototoxic fluorescent protein, KillerRed

Neurosci Lett. 2013 Aug 26:548:261-4. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2013.05.053. Epub 2013 Jun 4.


Specific neuron ablation with laser microbeam has been used in behavioral analysis of Caenorhabditis elegans. However, this method is hard to acquire many ablated worms, and is unable to compare behavioral changes just before and after ablation. Here, we developed an ablation method by using genetically encoded photosensitizer protein, KillerRed, which produces reactive oxygen species by green light irradiation. Ablation of AWA sensory neurons abolished the chemotaxis to AWA specific sensitive attractant, diacetyl, and no functional effect on the other sensory neuron, AWC, which senses benzaldehyde. This ablation method can be useful for analyzing neural in situ.

Keywords: C. elegans; Chemosensation; KillerRed; Neural dynamics; Photo-inactivation; Reactive oxygen species.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / radiation effects*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / cytology*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / genetics*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / genetics*
  • Laser Therapy / methods*
  • Sensory Receptor Cells / cytology*
  • Sensory Receptor Cells / radiation effects*


  • killer red protein, Anthomedusae
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins