Analysis of dominant mutations affecting muscle excitation in Caenorhabditis elegans. Academic Article uri icon


  • We examined mutations that disrupt muscle activation in Caenorhabditis elegans. Fifteen of 17 of these genes were identified previously and we describe new mutations in three of them. We also describe mutations in two new genes, exp-3 and exp-4. We assessed the degree of defect in pharyngeal, body-wall, egg-laying, and enteric muscle activation in animals mutant for each gene. Mutations in all 17 genes are semidominant and, in cases that could be tested, appear to be gain-of-function. Based on their phenotypes, the genes fall into three broad categories: mutations in 11 genes cause defective muscle activation, mutations in four genes cause hyperactivated muscle, and mutations in two genes cause defective activation in some muscle types and hyperactivation in others. In all testable cases, the mutations blocked response to pharmacological activators of egg laying, but did not block muscle activation by irradiation with a laser microbeam. The data suggest that these mutations affect muscle excitation, but not the capacity of the muscle fibers to contract. For most of the genes, apparent loss-of-function mutants have a grossly wild-type phenotype. These observations suggest that there is a large group of genes that function in muscle excitation that can be identified primarily by dominant mutations.

published proceedings

  • Genetics

author list (cited authors)

  • Reiner, D. J., Weinshenker, D., & Thomas, J. H.

citation count

  • 43

complete list of authors

  • Reiner, DJ||Weinshenker, D||Thomas, JH

publication date

  • November 1995