Polymodal Functionality of C. elegans OLL Neurons in Mechanosensation and Thermosensation

Yuedan Fan1,2• Wenjuan Zou1,2• Jia Liu1,2• Umar Al-Sheikh1,2• Hankui Cheng1,2• Duo Duan1,2• Du Chen1,2• Siyan Liu1,2• Luyi Chen3• Jilei Xu3• Firdosh Ruhomutally4• Lijun Kang1,2

1 Department of Neurobiology and Department of Neurosurgery of the First Affiliated Hospital, Zhejiang University School of Medicine, Hangzhou 310053, China

2 NHC and CAMS Key Laboratory of Medical Neurobiology, MOE Frontier Science Center for Brain Research and Brain-Machine Integration, School of Brain Science and Brain Medicine, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou 310053, China

3 Department of Gastroenterology, Sir Run Run Shaw Hospital, Zhejiang University School of Medicine, Hangzhou 310016, China

4 Department of Human Sciences and Psychology, University of South Africa (UNISA), Pretoria 0003, South Africa


Sensory modalities are important for survival but the molecular mechanisms remain challenging due to the polymodal functionality of sensory neurons. Here, we report the C. elegans outer labial lateral (OLL) sensilla sensory neurons respond to touch and cold. Mechanosensation of OLL neurons resulted in cell-autonomous mechanically-evoked Ca2+ transients and rapidly-adapting mechanoreceptor currents with a very short latency. Mechanotransduction of OLL neurons might be carried by a novel Na+ conductance channel, which is insensitive to amiloride. The bona fide mechano-gated Na+-selective degenerin/epithelial Na+ channels, TRP-4, TMC, and Piezo proteins are not involved in this mechanosensation. Interestingly, OLL neurons also mediated cold but not warm responses in a cell-autonomous manner. We further showed that the cold response of OLL neurons is not mediated by the cold receptor TRPA-1 or the temperature-sensitive glutamate receptor GLR-3. Thus, we propose the polymodal functionality of OLL neurons in mechanosensation and cold sensation.


Polymodal sensory neuron ; Mechanosensation ; Thermosensation ; Sodium channel ; Cold receptor ; OLL neurons


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