- Scientific Papers
The temporal pattern of stimulation determines the extent and duration of MAPK activation in a Caenorhabditis elegans sensory neuron
The Caenorhabditis elegans ASER sensory neuron is excited when environmental NaCl concentration is decreased. The mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) MPK-1, a homolog of ERK (extracellular signal-regulated kinase), is activated during excitation of ASER sensory neurons. We created and expressed a fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET)-based MAPK activity probe in ASER neurons and then exposed the worms to various cyclic patterns of stimulation (changes in NaCl concentration) to monitor the dynamics of MPK-1 activity. We found that the intensity and duration of MPK-1 activity were determined by the temporal pattern of stimulation, namely, a combination of stimulation period length, stimulation duration, and time between stimuli. The complex, nonlinear relationship between stimulation and MPK-1 activation was explained by the properties of intracellular calcium responses upstream of MPK-1. Thus, we visualized the dynamics of MAPK activation in a sensory neuron in living nematodes in response to complex stimuli and present a reporter that can be used in higher eukaryotes to test in silico predictions regarding the MAPK pathway.