The mechanisms by which animals respond to environmental temperature is not fully understood. C. elegans responds to ambient temperature in a complex, experience-dependent manner. The behavior of C. elegans on a thermal gradient is dependent on its prior temperature history. The goal of this proposal is to define the molecular and neuronal mechanisms required for C. elegans thermosensory responses and behavioral plasticity. Specifically, we will: 1) Characterize the molecules and pathways in the AFD thermosensory neurons required for different aspects of C. elegans thermosensory behavior. We have used quantitative behavioral and calcium imaging assays to dissect C. elegans thermosensory behavior into several underlying components. We will use these assays to define the contributions of candidate molecules to different aspects of thermosensory responses, and begin to place these molecules in genetic and biochemical pathways. 2) Identify the thermosensory neuron driving a cryophilic bias. Neuronal circuit analyses indicate that a thermosensory neuron other than the AFD neurons responds to temperature. We will identify this neuron using laser-mediated disruption experiments. 3) Identify and analyze molecular thermosensors. We will use forward and reverse genetic approaches to identify molecular thermoreceptors. Thermoreceptor functions will be further validated by misexpression and heterologous expression experiments. This work will identify new molecules involved in thermosensation, thermosensory signal transduction and neuronal plasticity. We expect that similar molecules and mechanisms operate in higher animals to regulate nervous system function in multiple contexts, including in neuronal disorders. Lay summary: The goal is to identify molecules and neurons required for sensing temperature using the C. elegans model system. Many of these genes are expected to be conserved in other organisms including humans, and to play important roles in regulating neuron functions.

Agency
National Institute of Health (NIH)
Institute
National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)
Type
Research Project (R01)
Project #
5R01GM081639-04
Application #
7908683
Study Section
Synapses, Cytoskeleton and Trafficking Study Section (SYN)
Program Officer
Tompkins, Laurie
Project Start
2007-09-01
Project End
2012-04-30
Budget Start
2010-09-01
Budget End
2012-04-30
Support Year
4
Fiscal Year
2010
Total Cost
$399,693
Indirect Cost
Name
Brandeis University
Department
Biology
Type
Schools of Arts and Sciences
DUNS #
616845814
City
Waltham
State
MA
Country
United States
Zip Code
02454
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Beverly, Matthew; Anbil, Sriram; Sengupta, Piali (2011) Degeneracy and neuromodulation among thermosensory neurons contribute to robust thermosensory behaviors in Caenorhabditis elegans. J Neurosci 31:11718-27

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