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Development 130 (19): 4553-4566

Modulation of EGF receptor-mediated vulva development by the heterotrimeric G-protein G{alpha}q and excitable cells in C. elegans

Nadeem Moghal1,*,{ddagger}, L. Rene Garcia2,*,{ddagger}, Liakot A. Khan3,{dagger}, Kouichi Iwasaki3, and Paul W. Sternberg1

1 Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Division of Biology, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91125, USA
2 Department of Biology, Texas A&M University, 3258 TAMU, College Station, TX 77843, USA
3 Laboratory of Molecular Neurobiology, Neuroscience Research Institute AIST, Tsukuba, 305-8566, Japan

{ddagger} Authors for correspondence (e-mail: nmoghal{at} and rgarcia{at}

Accepted for publication 12 June 2003.

Abstract: The extent to which excitable cells and behavior modulate animal development has not been examined in detail. Here, we demonstrate the existence of a novel pathway for promoting vulval fates in C. elegans that involves activation of the heterotrimeric G{alpha}q protein, EGL-30. EGL-30 acts with muscle-expressed EGL-19 L-type voltage-gated calcium channels to promote vulva development, and acts downstream or parallel to LET-60 (RAS). This pathway is not essential for vulval induction on standard Petri plates, but can be stimulated by expression of activated EGL-30 in neurons, or by an EGL-30-dependent change in behavior that occurs in a liquid environment. Our results indicate that excitable cells and animal behavior can provide modulatory inputs into the effects of growth factor signaling on cell fates, and suggest that communication between these cell populations is important for normal development to occur under certain environmental conditions.

Key Words: EGF • Muscle • Neurons • Behavior • Vulva • G protein

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