In Caenorhabditis elegans, the AWC neurons are thought to deploy a cGMP signaling cascade in the detection of and response to AWC sensed odors. Prolonged exposure to an AWC sensed odor in the absence of food leads to reversible decreases in the animal's attraction to that odor. This adaptation exhibits two stages referred to as short-term and long-term adaptation. Previously, the protein kinase G (PKG), EGL-4/PKG-1, was shown necessary for both stages of adaptation and phosphorylation of its target, the beta-type cyclic nucleotide gated (CNG) channel subunit, TAX-2, was implicated in the short term stage. Here we uncover a novel role for the CNG channel subunit, CNG-3, in short term adaptation. We demonstrate that CNG-3 is required in the AWC for adaptation to short (thirty minute) exposures of odor, and contains a candidate PKG phosphorylation site required to tune odor sensitivity. We also provide in vivo data suggesting that CNG-3 forms a complex with both TAX-2 and TAX-4 CNG channel subunits in AWC. Finally, we examine the physiology of different CNG channel subunit combinations.
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