Activation of EGL-47, a Gαo-coupled receptor, inhibits function of hermaphrodite-specific motor neurons to regulate Caenorhabditis elegans egg-laying behavior

James J. Moresco, Michael R. Koelle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Caenorhabditis elegans egg-laying behavior is inhibited by neurotransmitter signaling through the neural G-protein Gαo and serves as a model for analyzing Gαo signaling. Mutations that alter egg-laying frequency have identified genes encoding a number of signaling proteins that act with Gαo, but the receptors that activate Gαo remain mostly uncharacterized. To further analyze Gαo signaling, we cloned the egl-47 gene, which was identified by two dominant mutations that severely inhibit egg laying, egl-47 encodes two orphan G-protein-coupled receptor isoforms, which share all seven transmembrane domains but have different extracellular N termini. Both dominant mutations change the same alanine to valine in the sixth transmembrane domain, resulting in constitutively activated receptors. Deletion of the egl-47 gene caused no detectable egg-laying defects, suggesting that EGL-47 functions redundantly, or it inhibits egg laying under specific circumstances as yet unidentified. Using promoter::green fluorescent protein transgenes, we found that EGL-47 is expressed in a number of neurons, including the hermaphrodite-specific neurons (HSNs) that innervate the egg-laying muscles to stimulate contraction. Transgenic expression of constitutively active EGL-47 or constitutively active Gαo specifically in the HSNs was sufficient to inhibit egg-laying behavior. Our results suggest that EGL-47 regulates egg laying by activating Gαo in the HSN motor neurons to inhibit their activity. Because several neurotransmitters act through Gαo to inhibit HSN function, it appears that loss of any one receptor, such as EGL-47, causes only mild defects. Gαo apparently integrates signaling from multiple receptors in the HSNs, including EGL-47, to set the frequency of egg-laying behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8522-8530
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number39
StatePublished - Sep 29 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Caenorhabditis elegans
  • EGL-47
  • Egg-laying behavior
  • G-protein-coupled receptor
  • HSN neuron

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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