Research ArticleNeuroscience

The Temporal Pattern of Stimulation Determines the Extent and Duration of MAPK Activation in a Caenorhabditis elegans Sensory Neuron

Science Signaling  16 Oct 2012:
Vol. 5, Issue 246, pp. ra76
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.2002983

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Live Dynamics of Cell Signaling

Tomida et al. describe the development of a fluorescent sensor that reported the activity of a specific kinase, ERK, and its application to the analysis of cell signaling in neurons of living nematode worms. By expressing this ERK sensor in a specific neuron that responds to changes in extracellular salt concentration, they found that the activity of the kinase exhibited complex, nonlinear kinetics in response to pulsatile changes in NaCl. The nonlinear dynamics appeared to result from nonlinear calcium signals triggered by the different stimulation paradigms, and simulations were consistent with this hypothesis. Thus, tracking signaling in single cells of living organisms reveals the dynamic complexity of cellular responses.