Electrical activity and behavior in the pharynx of Caenorhabditis elegans

Neuron. 1994 Mar;12(3):483-95. doi: 10.1016/0896-6273(94)90207-0.


The pharynx of C. elegans, a model system for neural networks and for membrane excitability, has been chiefly studied by observing its behavior in normal worms, in mutant worms, and in worms lacking pharyngeal neurons. To complement this behavioral approach, we devised a method for recording currents produced by changes in pharyngeal muscle membrane potential. The electrical records, called electropharyngeograms, contain transients caused by pharyngeal muscle action potentials and by inhibitory synaptic transmission between pharyngeal neuron M3 and the muscle. Using the electropharyngeograms, we show that gamma-aminobutyric acid is not likely to be the M3 neurotransmitter, that synaptic transmission is present but abnormal in mutants lacking synaptotagmin, and that worms mutant in the eat-4 gene are defective for M3 function or transmission.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / genetics
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / physiology*
  • Electrophysiology
  • Extracellular Space / physiology
  • Membranes / physiology
  • Motion
  • Mutation
  • Nervous System Physiological Phenomena
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Pharyngeal Muscles / physiology
  • Pharynx / anatomy & histology
  • Pharynx / innervation
  • Pharynx / physiology*