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Forward genetic screens for mutations that rescue the paralysis of ric-8 (Synembryn) reduction-of-function mutations frequently reveal mutations that cause hyperactivation of one or more components of the G alpha(s) pathway. Here, we report that one of these mutations strongly reduces the function of the Dunce cAMP phosphodiesterase PDE-4 by disrupting a conserved active site residue. Loss of function and neural overexpression of PDE-4 have profound and opposite effects on locomotion rate, but drug-response assays suggest that loss of PDE-4 function does not affect steady-state acetylcholine release or reception. Our genetic analysis suggests that PDE-4 regulates both G alpha(s)-dependent and G alpha(s)-independent cAMP pools in the neurons controlling locomotion rate. By immunostaining, PDE-4 is strongly expressed throughout the nervous system, where it localizes to small regions at the outside boundaries of synaptic vesicle clusters as well as intersynaptic regions. The synaptic subregions containing PDE-4 are distinct from those containing active zones, as indicated by costaining with an antibody against the long form of UNC-13. This highly focal subsynaptic localization suggests that PDE-4 may exert its effects by spatially regulating intrasynaptic cAMP pools.


Nicole K Charlie, Angela M Thomure, Michael A Schade, Kenneth G Miller. The Dunce cAMP phosphodiesterase PDE-4 negatively regulates G alpha(s)-dependent and G alpha(s)-independent cAMP pools in the Caenorhabditis elegans synaptic signaling network. Genetics. 2006 May;173(1):111-30

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PMID: 16624912

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