Neuronal control of diet-induced behaviour

V Juozaityte, D Pladevall, A Podolska, B Neumann and R Pocock

Monash University

Animal behaviour is shaped through interplay between genes, the environment and previous experience. As in mammals, satiety signals induce quiescence (sleep) in Caenorhabditis elegans. We have identified that the ETS-5 transcription factor, orthologue of mammalian FEV/Pet1, controls satiety-induced quiescence. Nutritional status has a major influence on C. elegans behaviour. When foraging, food availability controls behavioural state switching between active (roaming) and sedentary (dwelling) states. When provided with high-quality food, however, C. elegans become sated and enter quiescence. Our data suggest that ETS-5 controls these behavioural states by setting the internal satiety quotient through fat regulation. Acting from sensory neurons, ETS-5 functions in a complex network with serotonergic and neuropeptide signalling pathways to control food-regulated behavioural state switching. Finally, we show that genetic and chemical control of quiescence through fat storage is reversible such that it may aid the development of appetite-controlling interventions.