Neuropeptide signalling shapes feeding and reproductive behaviours in male Caenorhabditis elegans

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Life science alliance


Sexual dimorphism occurs where different sexes of the same species display differences in characteristics not limited to reproduction. For the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, in which the complete neuroanatomy has been solved for both hermaphrodites and males, sexually dimorphic features have been observed both in terms of the number of neurons and in synaptic connectivity. In addition, male behaviours, such as food-leaving to prioritise searching for mates, have been attributed to neuropeptides released from sex-shared or sex-specific neurons. In this study, we show that the lury-1 neuropeptide gene shows a sexually dimorphic expression pattern; being expressed in pharyngeal neurons in both sexes but displaying additional expression in tail neurons only in the male. We also show that lury-1 mutant animals show sex differences in feeding behaviours, with pharyngeal pumping elevated in hermaphrodites but reduced in males. LURY-1 also modulates male mating efficiency, influencing motor events during contact with a hermaphrodite. Our findings indicate sex-specific roles of this peptide in feeding and reproduction in C. elegans, providing further insight into neuromodulatory control of sexually dimorphic behaviours.

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