Modulation of sensory information processing by a neuroglobin in Caenorhabditis elegans [Neuroscience]
Sensory receptor neurons match their dynamic range to ecologically relevant stimulus intensities. How this tuning is achieved is poorly understood in most receptors. The roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans avoids 21% O2 and hypoxia and prefers intermediate O2 concentrations. We show how this O2 preference is sculpted by the antagonistic action of a neuroglobin and an O2-binding soluble guanylate cyclase. These putative molecular O2 sensors confer a sigmoidal O2 response curve in the URX neurons that has highest slope between 15 and 19% O2 and approaches saturation when O2 reaches 21%. In the absence of the neuroglobin, the response curve is shifted to lower O2 values and approaches saturation at 14% O2. In behavioral terms, neuroglobin signaling broadens the O2 preference of Caenorhabditis elegans while maintaining avoidance of 21% O2. A computational model of aerotaxis suggests the relationship between GLB-5–modulated URX responses and reversal behavior is sufficient to broaden O2 preference. In summary, we show that a neuroglobin can shift neural information coding leading to altered behavior. Antagonistically acting molecular sensors may represent a common mechanism to sharpen tuning of sensory neurons.
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