unc-8, a DEG/ENaC family member, encodes a subunit of a candidate mechanically gated channel that modulates C. elegans locomotion

Neuron. 1997 Jan;18(1):107-19. doi: 10.1016/s0896-6273(01)80050-7.


Mechanically gated ion channels are important modulators of coordinated movement, yet little is known of their molecular properties. We report that C. elegans unc-8, originally identified by gain-of-function mutations that induce neuronal swelling and severe uncoordination, encodes a DEG/ENaC family member homologous to subunits of a candidate mechanically gated ion channel. unc-8 is expressed in several sensory neurons, interneurons, and motor neurons. unc-8 null mutants exhibit previously unrecognized but striking defects in the amplitude and wavelength of sinusoidal tracks inscribed as they move through an E. coli lawn. We hypothesize that UNC-8 channels could modulate coordinated movement in response to body stretch. del-1, a second DEG/ENaC family member coexpressed with unc-8 in a subset of motor neurons, might also participate in a channel that contributes to nematode proprioception.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / genetics
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / physiology*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins*
  • DNA Primers
  • Genes, Helminth*
  • Helminth Proteins / genetics
  • Helminth Proteins / physiology
  • Ion Channel Gating
  • Ion Channels / chemistry
  • Ion Channels / genetics*
  • Ion Channels / physiology
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Motor Activity*
  • Mutagenesis
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Recombinant Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Recombinant Proteins / chemistry
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid


  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins
  • DNA Primers
  • Helminth Proteins
  • Ion Channels
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • unc-8 protein, C elegans

Associated data

  • GENBANK/U76402
  • GENBANK/U76403