Background: Hypoxia-inducible factor 1 (HIF-1) is a key transcription factor in the detection of low oxygen levels, inducing expression of genes involved in mediating the response to hypoxia to maintain cellular oxygen homeostasis. Caenorhabditis elegans is a soil nematode that has evolved specialized chemosensory neurons that detect changes in oxygen levels and guide its behaviour and responses to food. The role of the hif-1 gene in modifying chemosensory behaviour in response to chemical hypoxia however remains unclear. Furthermore, the role of epigenetic modifiers in mediating this behavioural response to hypoxia is unclear. Aims: Our study addresses two questions (a) Do hypoxia-mimetics modify worm behaviour and (b) Are these behaviours modulated by HIF-dependent expression of epigenetic regulators? Material and methods: This study used established behavioural paradigms in hif-1 mutant strains of C. elegans, to study responses to chemical hypoxia. Results: We show that exposure to the hypoxia-mimetic, sodium sulphite, changes the gustatory responses, chemotaxis, gustatory plasticity and associative conditioning behaviour. Longer-term exposure to hypoxia changes the behavioural response of wild type C. elegans, mediated by the HIF pathway. Epigenetic modifiers, lithium chloride and valproic acid, further modulate these behavioural responses.
- Caenorhabditis elegans
ASJC Scopus subject areas