The transient receptor potential (TRP) channels are implicated in various cellular processes, including sensory signal transduction and electrolyte homeostasis. We show here that the GTL-1 and GON-2 TRPM channels regulate electrolyte homeostasis in the C. elegans intestine. GON-2 is responsible for a large outwardly rectifying current of intestinal cells, and its activity is tightly regulated by intracellular Mg2+ levels, while GTL-1 mainly contributes to appropriate Mg2+ responsiveness of the outwardly rectifying current. We also used nickel cytotoxicity to study the function of these channels. Both GON-2 and GTL-1 are necessary for intestinal uptake of nickel, but GTL-1 is continuously active while GON-2 is inactivated at higher Mg2+ levels. This type of differential regulation of intestinal electrolyte absorption ensures a constant supply of electrolytes through GTL-1, while occasional bursts of GON-2 activity allow rapid return to normal electrolyte concentrations following physiological perturbations.
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