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- Aja McDonagh
- Jeannette Crew
- Alexander M. van der Linden
Dynamic changes in chemoreceptor gene expression levels in sensory neurons is one strategy that an animal can use to modify their responses to dietary changes. However, the mechanisms underlying diet-dependent modulation of chemosensory gene expression are unclear. Here, we show that the expression of the srh-234 chemoreceptor gene localized in a single ADL sensory neuron type of C. elegans is downregulated when animals are fed a Comamonas bacterial diet, but not on an E. coli diet. Remarkably, this diet-modulated effect on srh-234 gene expression levels is dependent on the micronutrient vitamin B12 endogenously produced by Comamonas bacteria. Excess propionate and genetic perturbations in the canonical and shunt propionate breakdown pathways are able to override the repressing effects of vitamin B12 on srh-234 expression. The vitamin B12-mediated regulation of srh-234 expression levels in ADL requires the MEF-2 transcription factor, providing a potential mechanism by which dietary vitamin B12 may transcriptionally tune individual chemoreceptor genes in a single sensory neuron type, which in turn may change animal responses to biologically relevant chemicals in their diet.