Dopamine signaling promotes the xenobiotic stress response and protein homeostasis

Kishore K. Joshi, Tarmie L. Matlack, Christopher Rongo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Multicellular organisms encounter environmental conditions that adversely affect protein homeostasis (proteostasis), including extreme temperatures, toxins, and pathogens. It is unclear how they use sensory signaling to detect adverse conditions and then activate stress response pathways so as to offset potential damage. Here, we show that dopaminergic mechanosensory neurons in C. elegans release the neurohormone dopamine to promote proteostasis in epithelia. Signaling through the DA receptor DOP-1 activates the expression of xenobiotic stress response genes involved in pathogenic resistance and toxin removal, and these genes are required for the removal of unstable proteins in epithelia. Exposure to a bacterial pathogen (Pseudomonas aeruginosa) results in elevated removal of unstable proteins in epithelia, and this enhancement requires DA signaling. In the absence of DA signaling, nematodes show increased sensitivity to pathogenic bacteria and heat-shock stress. Our results suggest that dopaminergic sensory neurons, in addition to slowing down locomotion upon sensing a potential bacterial feeding source, also signal to frontline epithelia to activate the xenobiotic stress response so as to maintain proteostasis and prepare for possible infection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1885-1901
Number of pages17
JournalEMBO Journal
Issue number17
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Molecular Biology
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)


  • C. elegans
  • dopamine
  • proteostasis
  • ubiquitin
  • xenobiotic stress


Dive into the research topics of 'Dopamine signaling promotes the xenobiotic stress response and protein homeostasis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this