UMMS Affiliation

Department of Neurobiology; Alkema Lab

Publication Date


Document Type



Amino Acids, Peptides, and Proteins | Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience | Nervous System


Biogenic amine neurotransmitters play a central role in metazoan biology, and both their chemical structures and cognate receptors are evolutionarily conserved. Their primary roles are in cell-to-cell signaling, as biogenic amines are not normally recruited for communication between separate individuals. Here, we show that in the nematode C. elegans, a neurotransmitter-sensing G protein-coupled receptor, TYRA-2, is required for avoidance responses to osas#9, an ascaroside pheromone that incorporates the neurotransmitter, octopamine. Neuronal ablation, cell-specific genetic rescue, and calcium imaging show that tyra-2 expression in the nociceptive neuron, ASH, is necessary and sufficient to induce osas#9 avoidance. Ectopic expression in the AWA neuron, which is generally associated with attractive responses, reverses the response to osas#9, resulting in attraction instead of avoidance behavior, confirming that TYRA-2 partakes in the sensing of osas#9. The TYRA-2/osas#9 signaling system represents an inter-organismal communication channel that evolved via co-option of a neurotransmitter and its cognate receptor.


Cellular neuroscience, Olfactory receptors

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DOI of Published Version



Nat Commun. 2019 Jul 18;10(1):3186. doi: 10.1038/s41467-019-11240-7. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Nature communications

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID


Creative Commons License

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