- Hu, Shuang; Pawson, Tony; Steven, Robert M
- Rho-family GTPases play regulatory roles in many fundamental cellular processes. Caenorhabditis elegans UNC-73 RhoGEF isoforms function in axon guidance, cell migration, muscle arm extension, phagocytosis, and neurotransmission by activating either Rac or Rho GTPase subfamilies. Multiple differentially expressed UNC-73 isoforms contain a Rac-specific RhoGEF-1 domain, a Rho-specific RhoGEF-2 domain, or both domains. The UNC-73E RhoGEF-2 isoform is activated by the G-protein subunit Gαq and is required for normal rates of locomotion; however, mechanisms of UNC-73 and Rho pathway regulation of locomotion are not clear. To better define UNC-73 function in the regulation of motility we used cell-specific and inducible promoters to examine the temporal and spatial requirements of UNC-73 RhoGEF-2 isoform function in mutant rescue experiments. We found that UNC-73E acts within peptidergic neurons of mature animals to regulate locomotion rate. Although unc-73 RhoGEF-2 mutants have grossly normal synaptic morphology and weak resistance to the acetylcholinesterase inhibitor aldicarb, they are significantly hypersensitive to the acetylcholine receptor agonist levamisole, indicating alterations in acetylcholine neurotransmitter signaling. Consistent with peptidergic neuron function, unc-73 RhoGEF-2 mutants exhibit a decreased level of neuropeptide release from motor neuron dense core vesicles (DCVs). The unc-73 locomotory phenotype is similar to those of rab-2 and unc-31, genes with distinct roles in the DCV-mediated secretory pathway. We observed that constitutively active Gαs pathway mutations, which compensate for DCV-mediated signaling defects, rescue unc-73 RhoGEF-2 and rab-2 lethargic movement phenotypes. Together, these data suggest UNC-73 RhoGEF-2 isoforms are required for proper neurotransmitter signaling and may function in the DCV-mediated neuromodulatory regulation of locomotion rate.
- Genetics Journal
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