Molecular neurogenetics of chemotaxis and thermotaxis in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans

Bioessays. 1997 Dec;19(12):1055-64. doi: 10.1002/bies.950191204.


Chemotaxis and thermotaxis in Caenorhabditis elegans are based on the chemical senses (smell and taste) and the thermal sense, respectively, which are important for the life of the animal. Laser ablation experiments have allowed identification of sensory neurons and some interneurons required for these senses. Many mutants that exhibit various abnormalities have been isolated and analyzed. These studies have predicted novel signaling pathways whose components include a putative odorant specific transmembrane receptor (ODR-10) and a cyclic nucleotide-gated channel (TAX-4/TAX-2) functioning in taste and thermosensation as well as in smell. The emerging picture of the mechanisms of sensory transduction in C. elegans seems to be basically similar to what is known of visual and olfactory sensory transduction in vertebrates. Thus, molecular and cellular analyses of chemotaxis and thermotaxis in C. elegans have proved useful and will continue to provide significant implications for the molecular basis of sensory systems in higher animals.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / genetics
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / physiology*
  • Cell Movement / genetics*
  • Chemotaxis / genetics*
  • Hot Temperature
  • Interneurons / physiology*
  • Neurons, Afferent / physiology*
  • Odorants
  • Signal Transduction
  • Vertebrates