The Caenorhabditis elegans odr-2 gene encodes a novel Ly-6-related protein required for olfaction.

PMID 11139503


Caenorhabditis elegans odr-2 mutants are defective in the ability to chemotax to odorants that are recognized by the two AWC olfactory neurons. Like many other olfactory mutants, they retain responses to high concentrations of AWC-sensed odors; we show here that these residual responses are caused by the ability of other olfactory neurons (the AWA neurons) to be recruited at high odor concentrations. odr-2 encodes a membrane-associated protein related to the Ly-6 superfamily of GPI-linked signaling proteins and is the founding member of a C. elegans gene family with at least seven other members. Alternative splicing of odr-2 yields three predicted proteins that differ only at the extreme amino terminus. The three isoforms have different promoters, and one isoform may have a unique role in olfaction. An epitope-tagged ODR-2 protein is expressed at high levels in sensory neurons, motor neurons, and interneurons and is enriched in axons. The AWC neurons are superficially normal in their development and structure in odr-2 mutants, but their function is impaired. Our results suggest that ODR-2 may regulate AWC signaling within the neuronal network required for chemotaxis.