New genes that extendCaenorhabditis elegans’ lifespan in response to reproductive signals

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In Caenorhabditis elegans and Drosophila, removing germline stem cells increases lifespan. In C. elegans, this lifespan extension requires DAF-16, a FOXO transcription factor, and DAF-12, a nuclear hormone receptor. To better understand the regulatory relationships between DAF-16 and DAF-12, we used microarray analysis to identify downstream genes. We found that these two transcription factors influence the expression of distinct but overlapping sets of genes in response to loss of the germline. In addition, we identified several new genes that are required for loss of the germline to increase lifespan. One, phi-62, encodes a conserved, predicted RNA-binding protein. PHI-62 influences DAF-16-dependent transcription, possibly by collaborating with TCER-1, a putative transcription elongation factor, and FTT-2, a 14-3-3 protein known to bind DAF-16. Three other genes encode proteins involved in lipid metabolism; one is a triacylglycerol lipase, and another is an acyl-CoA reductase. These genes do not noticeably affect bulk fat storage levels; therefore, we propose a model in which they may influence production of a lifespan-extending signal or metabolite.

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