The authors studied the wild type strain, N2, and three mutant strains of the nematode, Caenorhabditis elegans, in order to measure genetically produced changes in responses to nine volatile anesthetics. They determined the anesthetic ED50s of N2 for thiomethoxyflurane, methoxyflurane, chloroform, halothane, enflurane, isoflurane, fluroxene, flurothyl, and diethylether. The log-log relationship of the oil-gas partition coefficients (O/G) and the ED50s of these agents for N2 yields a straight line with a slope of -.997 with a R2 of .98 over a range of O/G (at 37 degrees C) from 48 to 7230. When the O/Gs are corrected to 22 degrees C, the slope is -.964 with an R2 of .98. This relationship is similar to that found in other animals. Two mutant strains, unc-79
, show altered responses to these anesthetics. These strains are two to three times more sensitive than N2 to anesthetics with an O/G greater than that of halothane (220 at 37 degrees C), yet they differ little from N2 in response to anesthetics with lower O/Gs. unc-79
are about 30% more sensitive than N2 to diethylether. The double mutant unc-79
is more sensitive to halothane, isoflurane, and fluroxene than is either mutant alone. The authors believe these data indicate an alteration at the site of action of volatile anesthetics in unc-79
. They also postulate that the interaction of unc-79
indicate these genes code for enzymes in a common pathway, and that unc-79
in this pathway.