A natural variant and engineered mutation in a GPCR promote DEET resistance in C. elegans.

Abstract:

:DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) is a synthetic chemical identified by the US Department of Agriculture in 1946 in a screen for repellents to protect soldiers from mosquito-borne diseases1,2. Since its discovery, DEET has become the world's most widely used arthropod repellent and is effective against invertebrates separated by millions of years of evolution-including biting flies3, honeybees4, ticks5, and land leeches3. In insects, DEET acts on the olfactory system5-12 and requires the olfactory receptor co-receptor Orco7,9-12, but exactly how it works remains controversial13. Here we show that the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans is sensitive to DEET and use this genetically tractable animal to study the mechanism of action of this chemical. We found that DEET is not a volatile repellent, but instead interferes selectively with chemotaxis to a variety of attractant and repellent molecules. In a forward genetic screen for DEET-resistant worms, we identified a gene that encodes a single G protein-coupled receptor, str-217, which is expressed in a single pair of chemosensory neurons that are responsive to DEET, called ADL neurons. Mis-expression of str-217 in another chemosensory neuron conferred responses to DEET. Engineered str-217 mutants, and a wild isolate of C. elegans that carries a str-217 deletion, are resistant to DEET. We found that DEET can interfere with behaviour by inducing an increase in average pause length during locomotion, and show that this increase in pausing requires both str-217 and ADL neurons. Finally, we demonstrated that ADL neurons are activated by DEET and that optogenetic activation of ADL neurons increased average pause length. This is consistent with the 'confusant' hypothesis, which proposes that DEET is not a simple repellent but that it instead modulates multiple olfactory pathways to scramble behavioural responses10,11. Our results suggest a consistent motif in the effectiveness of DEET across widely divergent taxa: an effect on multiple chemosensory neurons that disrupts the pairing between odorant stimulus and behavioural response.

journal_name

Nature

journal_title

Nature

authors

Dennis EJ,Dobosiewicz M,Jin X,Duvall LB,Hartman PS,Bargmann CI,Vosshall LB

doi

10.1038/s41586-018-0546-8

subject

Has Abstract

pub_date

2018-10-01 00:00:00

pages

119-123

issue

7725

eissn

0028-0836

issn

1476-4687

pii

10.1038/s41586-018-0546-8

journal_volume

562

pub_type

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