UMass Chan Medical School Faculty Publications

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Neurobiology; Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences; Alkema Lab

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Behavioral Neurobiology


Co-localization and co-transmission of neurotransmitters and neuropeptides is a core property of neural signaling across species. While co-transmission can increase the flexibility of cellular communication, understanding the functional impact on neural dynamics and behavior remains a major challenge. Here we examine the role of neuropeptide/monoamine co-transmission in the orchestration of the C. elegans escape response. The tyraminergic RIM neurons, which coordinate distinct motor programs of the escape response, also co-express the neuropeptide encoding gene flp-18. We find that in response to a mechanical stimulus, flp-18 mutants have defects in locomotory arousal and head bending that facilitate the omega turn. We show that the induction of the escape response leads to the release of FLP-18 neuropeptides. FLP-18 modulates the escape response through the activation of the G-protein coupled receptor NPR-5. FLP-18 increases intracellular calcium levels in neck and body wall muscles to promote body bending. Our results show that FLP-18 and tyramine act in different tissues in both a complementary and antagonistic manner to control distinct motor programs during different phases of the C. elegans flight response. Our study reveals basic principles by which co-transmission of monoamines and neuropeptides orchestrate in arousal and behavior in response to stress.


Biological locomotion, Caenorhabditis elegans, Neuropeptides, Neurons, Animal behavior, Hyperexpression techniques, Motor neurons, Head

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Copyright © 2022 Florman, Alkema. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

DOI of Published Version



Florman JT, Alkema MJ. Co-transmission of neuropeptides and monoamines choreograph the C. elegans escape response. PLoS Genet. 2022 Mar 3;18(3):e1010091. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1010091. PMID: 35239681; PMCID: PMC8932558. Link to article on publisher's site

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PLoS genetics

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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.