Biogenic amines such as serotonin and dopamine are intercellular signaling molecules that function widely as neurotransmitters and neuromodulators. We have identified in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans three ligand-gated chloride channels that are receptors for biogenic amines: LGC-53 is a high-affinity dopamine receptor, LGC-55 is a high-affinity tyramine receptor, and LGC-40 is a low-affinity serotonin receptor that is also gated by choline and acetylcholine. lgc-55 mutants are defective in a behavior that requires endogenous tyramine, which indicates that this ionotropic tyramine receptor functions in tyramine signaling in vivo. Our studies suggest that direct activation of membrane chloride conductances is a general mechanism of action for biogenic amines in the modulation of C. elegans behavior.
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