Cholinergic transmission in C. elegans: Functions, diversity, and maturation of ACh-activated ion channels

Millet Treinin, Yishi Jin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Acetylcholine is an abundant neurotransmitter in all animals. Effects of acetylcholine are excitatory, inhibitory, or modulatory depending on the receptor and cell type. Research using the nematode C. elegans has made ground-breaking contributions to the mechanistic understanding of cholinergic transmission. Powerful genetic screens for behavioral mutants or for responses to pharmacological reagents identified the core cellular machinery for synaptic transmission. Pharmacological reagents that perturb acetylcholine-mediated processes led to the discovery and also uncovered the composition and regulators of acetylcholine-activated channels and receptors. From a combination of electrophysiological and molecular cellular studies, we have gained a profound understanding of cholinergic signaling at the levels of synapses, neural circuits, and animal behaviors. This review will begin with a historical overview, then cover in-depth current knowledge on acetylcholine-activated ionotropic receptors, mechanisms regulating their functional expression and their functions in regulating locomotion. (Figure presented.).

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1274-1291
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Neurochemistry
Issue number6
StatePublished - Sep 2021


  • ACR genes
  • RIC-3
  • acetylcholine
  • aldicarb
  • cys-loop receptors
  • excitation and inhibition balance
  • levamisole
  • locomotion
  • motor neurons
  • nAChRs
  • synapse

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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