The Caenorhabditis elegans unc-31 gene affects multiple nervous system-controlled functions

Genetics. 1993 Jun;134(2):455-64. doi: 10.1093/genetics/134.2.455.


We have devised a method for selecting Caenorhabditis elegans mutants that execute feeding motions in the absence of food. One mutation isolated in this way is an allele of the gene unc-31, first discovered by S. Brenner in 1974, because of its effects on locomotion. We find that strong unc-31 mutations cause defects in four functions controlled by the nervous system. Mutant worms are lethargic, feed constitutively, are defective in egg-laying and produce dauer larvae that fail to recover. We discuss two extreme models to explain this pleiotropy: either unc-31 affects one or a few neurons that coordinately control several different functions, or it affects many neurons that independently control different functions.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / genetics*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / physiology
  • Feeding Behavior / physiology*
  • Female
  • Genes*
  • Humans
  • Iron
  • Larva
  • Locomotion / genetics*
  • Locomotion / physiology
  • Magnetics
  • Nervous System / physiopathology
  • Oviposition / genetics*
  • Oviposition / physiology
  • Pharyngeal Muscles / physiopathology
  • Phenotype


  • Iron