Systemic Regulation of RAS/MAPK Signaling by the Serotonin Metabolite 5-HIAA

T. Schmid, L.B. Snoek, E. Fröhli, M.L. van der Bent, J.E. Kammenga*, A. Hajnal*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)


Human cancer is caused by the interplay of mutations in oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes and inherited variations in cancer susceptibility genes. While many of the tumor initiating mutations are well characterized, the effect of genetic background variation on disease onset and progression is less understood. We have used C. elegans genetics to identify genetic modifiers of the oncogenic RAS/MAPK signaling pathway. Quantitative trait locus analysis of two highly diverged C. elegans isolates combined with allele swapping experiments identified the polymorphic monoamine oxidase A (MAOA) gene amx-2 as a negative regulator of RAS/MAPK signaling. We further show that the serotonin metabolite 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid (5-HIAA), which is a product of MAOA catalysis, systemically inhibits RAS/MAPK signaling in different organs of C. elegans. Thus, MAOA activity sets a global threshold for MAPK activation by controlling 5-HIAA levels. To our knowledge, 5-HIAA is the first endogenous small molecule that acts as a systemic inhibitor of RAS/MAPK signaling.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1005236
Number of pages16
JournalPlos Genetics
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • caenorhabditis-elegans
  • c-elegans
  • natural variation
  • vulvar induction
  • complex disease
  • receptor
  • protein
  • gene
  • kinase
  • activation


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