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Science 320 (5877): 803-807

Copyright © 2008 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Temperature Sensing by an Olfactory Neuron in a Circuit Controlling Behavior of C. elegans

Atsushi Kuhara,1* Masatoshi Okumura,1* Tsubasa Kimata,1 Yoshinori Tanizawa,1{dagger} Ryo Takano,1 Koutarou D. Kimura,1{ddagger} Hitoshi Inada,1§ Kunihiro Matsumoto,2 Ikue Mori1,3,4||

Abstract: Temperature is an unavoidable environmental cue that affects the metabolism and behavior of any creature on Earth, yet how animals perceive temperature is poorly understood. The nematode Caenorhabditis elegans "memorizes" temperatures, and this stored information modifies its subsequent migration along a temperature gradient. We show that the olfactory neuron designated AWC senses temperature. Calcium imaging revealed that AWC responds to temperature changes and that response thresholds differ depending on the temperature to which the animal was previously exposed. In the mutant with impaired heterotrimeric guanine nucleotide–binding protein (G protein)–mediated signaling, AWC was hyperresponsive to temperature, whereas the AIY interneuron (which is postsynaptic to AWC) was hyporesponsive to temperature. Thus, temperature sensation exhibits a robust influence on a neural circuit controlling a memory-regulated behavior.

1 Group of Molecular Neurobiology, Graduate School of Science, Nagoya University, Nagoya 464-8602, Japan.
2 Group of Signal Transduction, Graduate School of Science, Nagoya University, Nagoya 464-8602, Japan.
3 Institute for Advanced Research, Nagoya University, Nagoya 464-8602, Japan.
4 Core Research for Evolutional Science and Technology (CREST), Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST), Japan.

* These authors contributed equally to this work.

{dagger} Present address: Division of Cell Biology, Medical Research Council–Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Hills Road, Cambridge CB2 0QH, UK.

{ddagger} Present address: Structural Biology Center, National Institute of Genetics, Mishima 411-8540, Japan.

§ Present address: Okazaki Institute for Integrative Bioscience, National Institutes of Natural Sciences, Okazaki 444-8787, Japan.

|| To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: m46920a{at}

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