The serotonin receptor SER-1 (5HT2ce) contributes to the regulation of locomotion in Caenorhabditis elegans



Serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine: 5HT) is an important neuroactive substance in the model roundworm, Caenorhabditis elegans. Aside from having effects in feeding and egg-laying, 5HT inhibits motility and also modulates several locomotory behaviors, notably food-induced slowing and foraging. Recent evidence showed that a serotonergic 5HT2-like receptor named SER-1 (also known as 5HT2ce) was responsible for the effect of 5HT on egg-laying. Here we confirm this observation and show that SER-1 also plays an important role in locomotion. A mutant lacking SER-1 was found to be highly resistant to exogenous 5HT in the absence of food and this resistant phenotype was rescued by reintroducing the SER-1 gene in a mutant background. Pharmacological studies showed that the same antagonists that blocked the activity of recombinant SER-1 invitro also inhibited the effect of 5HT on motility, suggesting the same receptor was responsible for both effects. When tested for locomotory behaviors, the SER-1 mutant was found to be moderately defective in food-induced slowing. In addition, the mutant changed direction more frequently than the wildtype when searching for food, suggesting that SER-1 may play a role in navigational control during foraging. Both these effects required the presence of MOD-1, a 5HT gated chloride channel, and the results indicate that SER-1 and MOD-1 modulate these behaviors through a common pathway. On the basis of expression analysis of a ser-1::GFP translational fusion, SER-1 is prominently located in central, integrating neurons of the head ganglia (RIA and RIC) but not the body wall musculature. The evidence suggests that SER-1 controls locomotion through indirect modulation of neuromuscular circuits and has effects both on speed and direction of movement. © 2006 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Develop Neurobiol 67: 189–204, 2007.