In Caenorhabditis elegans three pairs of neurons, AFD, AIY, and AIZ, play a key role in thermosensation. The LIM homeobox gene ceh-14 is expressed in the AFD thermosensory neurons, ceh-14 mutant animals display athermotactic behaviors, although the neurons are still present and differentiated. Two other LIM homeobox genes, ttx-3 and lin-11, function in the two interneurons AIY and AIZ, respectively. Thus, the three key thermosensory neurons are specified by three different LIM homeobox genes, ceh-14 ttx-3 lin-11 triple mutant animals have a basic cryophilic thermotaxis behavior indicative of a second thermotaxis pathway. Misexpression of ceh-14 in chemosensory neurons can restore thermotacfic behavior without impairing the chemosensory function. Thus, ceh-14 confers thermosensory function to neurons.
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