The NCA-1 and NCA-2 Ion channels function downstream of Gq and Rho to regulate locomotion in Caenorhabditis elegans

Irini Topalidou, Pin An Chen, Kirsten Cooper, Shigeki Watanabe, Erik M. Jorgensen, Michael Ailion

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The heterotrimeric G protein Gq positively regulates neuronal activity and synaptic transmission. Previously, the Rho guanine nucleotide exchange factor Trio was identified as a direct effector of Gq that acts in parallel to the canonical Gq effector phospholipase C. Here, we examine how Trio and Rho act to stimulate neuronal activity downstream of Gq in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. Through two forward genetic screens, we identify the cation channels NCA-1 and NCA-2, orthologs of mammalian NALCN, as downstream targets of the Gq-Rho pathway. By performing genetic epistasis analysis using dominant activating mutations and recessive loss-of-function mutations in the members of this pathway, we show that NCA-1 and NCA-2 act downstream of Gq in a linear pathway. Through cell-specific rescue experiments, we show that function of these channels in head acetylcholine neurons is sufficient for normal locomotion in C. elegans. Our results suggest that NCA-1 and NCA-2 are physiologically relevant targets of neuronal Gq-Rho signaling in C. elegans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)265-282
Number of pages18
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 2017


  • C. elegans
  • G protein
  • G signaling
  • NCA/NALCN ion channels
  • Rho small GTPase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics

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