Natural variation in a neuropeptide Y receptor homolog modifies social behavior and food response in C. elegans

Cell. 1998 Sep 4;94(5):679-89. doi: 10.1016/s0092-8674(00)81609-8.


Natural isolates of C. elegans exhibit either solitary or social feeding behavior. Solitary foragers move slowly on a bacterial lawn and disperse across it, while social foragers move rapidly on bacteria and aggregate together. A loss-of-function mutation in the npr-1 gene, which encodes a predicted G protein-coupled receptor similar to neuropeptide Y receptors, causes a solitary strain to take on social behavior. Two isoforms of NPR-1 that differ at a single residue occur in the wild. One isoform, NPR-1 215F, is found exclusively in social strains, while the other isoform, NPR-1 215V, is found exclusively in solitary strains. An NPR-1 215V transgene can induce solitary feeding behavior in a wild social strain. Thus, isoforms of a putative neuropeptide receptor generate natural variation in C. elegans feeding behavior.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Amino Acid Substitution
  • Animals
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / genetics*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / physiology
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • GTP-Binding Proteins / physiology
  • Genetic Variation*
  • Helminth Proteins / chemistry
  • Helminth Proteins / genetics*
  • Models, Molecular
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutation / physiology
  • Receptors, Neuropeptide Y / chemistry
  • Receptors, Neuropeptide Y / genetics
  • Receptors, Neuropeptide Y / physiology*
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid*
  • Social Behavior*


  • Helminth Proteins
  • Receptors, Neuropeptide Y
  • GTP-Binding Proteins

Associated data

  • GENBANK/U49944