Comparing the effect of heat shock on locomotion, posture and head oscillation of wild-type (N2 strain) and mutant (VC854 strain) Caenorhabditis elegans

Alison H. Fung, Ji Hyuk Jang, Arjun S. Sangha, Ajaypaul L. Singh, Gurkaran M. Singh


In response to extreme temperatures, Caenorhabditis elegans combat cellular stress through activation of a heat shock transcription factor (HSF-1). The downstream effects of HSF-1 can lead to a sleep-like state in nematodes, characterized by decreased feeding and locomotion. Our objective was to compare sleep-state responses exhibited by the wild-type (N2) and mutant (VC854) strains during heat shock. Our experiment implemented an air incubation technique, exposing the nematodes to 35ºC for 30 minutes in the heat shock treatment and a control treatment at 15ºC. The mean number of head oscillations in a 30 second interval, posture and locomotion were measured and recorded for each replicate. Following heat shock treatment, the average number of head oscillations by the mutants was 4 ± 2 (SD: 3.32), while the average number of head oscillations by the wild-type was 9 ± 3 (SD: 5.88). Our results suggest that the effect of heat shock at 35˚C on the activity of mutants (VC854) was not greater than the effects seen on wild-type C. elegans. A possible explanation for this phenomenon is the restricted locomotive potential conferred by the unc-2 gene deletion mutation in the VC854 strain.

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