American Association for the Advancement of Science
Science vol:338 issue:6106 pages:543-545
Vasopressin- and oxytocin-related neuropeptides are key regulators of animal physiology, including water balance and reproduction. Although these neuropeptides also modulate social behavior and cognition in mammals, the mechanism for influencing behavioral plasticity and the evolutionary origin of these effects are not well understood. Here, we present a functional vasopressin- and oxytocin-like signaling system in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. Through activation of its receptor NTR-1, a vasopressin/oxytocin-related neuropeptide, designated nematocin, facilitates the experience-driven modulation of salt chemotaxis, a type of gustatory associative learning in C. elegans. Our study suggests that vasopressin and oxytocin neuropeptides have ancient roles in modulating sensory processing in neural circuits that underlie behavioral plasticity.