GSBS Student Publications


A Tyramine-Gated Chloride Channel Coordinates Distinct Motor Programs of a Caenorhabditis elegans Escape Response

Student Author(s)

Jennifer Pirri; Jamie Donnelly

GSBS Program


UMMS Affiliation

Department of Neurobiology



Document Type


Medical Subject Headings

Adrenergic Uptake Inhibitors; Analysis of Variance; Animals; Animals, Genetically Modified; Behavior, Animal; Caenorhabditis elegans; Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins; Chloride Channels; Dose-Response Relationship, Drug; Electric Stimulation; Escape Reaction; Gene Expression; Green Fluorescent Proteins; Head Movements; Ion Channel Gating; Locomotion; Membrane Potentials; Mutation; Neck Muscles; Oocytes; Patch-Clamp Techniques; Physical Stimulation; Sequence Analysis, Protein; Tyramine; Xenopus laevis


Life Sciences | Medicine and Health Sciences | Neuroscience and Neurobiology


A key feature of escape responses is the fast translation of sensory information into a coordinated motor output. In C. elegans, anterior touch initiates a backward escape response in which lateral head movements are suppressed. Here, we show that tyramine inhibits head movements and forward locomotion through the activation of a tyramine-gated chloride channel, LGC-55. lgc-55 mutant animals have defects in reversal behavior and fail to suppress head oscillations in response to anterior touch. lgc-55 is expressed in neurons and muscle cells that receive direct synaptic inputs from tyraminergic motor neurons. Therefore, tyramine can act as a classical inhibitory neurotransmitter. Activation of LGC-55 by tyramine coordinates the output of two distinct motor programs, locomotion and head movements that are critical for a C. elegans escape response.

Rights and Permissions

Pirri, J.K., McPherson, A.D., Donnelly, J.L., Francis, M.M., and Alkema, M.J. (2009). A Tyramine-Gated Chloride Channel Coordinates Distinct Motor Programs of a Caenorhabditis elegans Escape Response. Neuron. 62, 528-536. Link to article on publisher's website


Article's Supplemental Data include six figures and five movies and can be found with this article online.


Related Resources

Link to article in PubMed

PubMed ID