In C. elegans research, transcriptional activation of glutathione S-transferase 4 (gst-4) is often used as a read-out for SKN-1 activity. While many heed an assumed non-exclusivity of the GFP reporter signal driven by the gst-4 promoter to SKN-1, this is also often ignored. We here show that gst-4 can also be transcriptionally activated by EOR-1, a transcription factor mediating effects of the epidermal growth factor (EGF) pathway. Along with enhancing exogenous oxidative stress tolerance, EOR-1 independently of SKN-1 increases gst-4 transcription in response to augmented EGF signaling.Our findings caution researchers within the C. elegans community to always rely on sufficient experimental controls when assaying SKN-1 transcriptional activity with a gst-4 p ::gfp reporter, such as SKN-1 loss-of-function mutants and/or additional target genes next to gst-4.
The onset of sexual maturity involves dramatic changes in physiology and gene expression in many animals. These include abundant yolk protein production in egg-laying species, an energetically costly process under extensive transcriptional control. Here, we used the model organism Caenorhabditis elegans to provide evidence for the spatiotemporally defined interaction of two evolutionarily conserved transcription factors, CEH-60/PBX and UNC-62/MEIS, acting as a gateway to yolk protein production. Via proteomics, bimolecular fluorescence complementation (BiFC), and biochemical and functional readouts, we show that this interaction occurs in the intestine of animals at the onset of sexual maturity and suffices to support the reproductive program. Our electron micrographs and functional assays provide evidence that intestinal PBX/MEIS cooperation drives another process that depends on lipid mobilization: the formation of an impermeable epicuticle. Without this lipid-rich protective layer, mutant animals are hypersensitive to exogenous oxidative stress and are poor partners for mating. Dedicated communication between the hypodermis and intestine in C. elegans likely supports these physiological outcomes, and we propose a fundamental role for the conserved PBX/MEIS interaction in multicellular signaling networks that rely on lipid homeostasis.
MicroRNAs are non-coding RNAs with roles in many cellular processes. Tissue-specific miRNA profiles associated with senescence have been described for several cell and tissue types. We aimed to characterise miRNAs involved in core, rather than tissue-specific, senescence pathways by assessment of common miRNA expression differences in two different cell types, with follow-up of predicted targets in human peripheral blood. MicroRNAs were profiled in early and late passage primary lung and skin fibrob-lasts to identify commonly-deregulated miRNAs. Expression changes of their bioinformatically-predicted mRNA targets were then assessed in both cell types and in human peripheral blood from elderly participants in the InCHIANTI study. 57/178 and 26/492 microRNAs were altered in late passage skin and lung cells respectively. Three miRNAs (miR-92a, miR-15b and miR-125a-3p) were altered in both tissues. 14 mRNA targets of the common miRNAs were expressed in lung and skin fibroblasts, of which two demonstrated up-regulation in late passage skin and lung cells (LYST; p = 0.02 [skin] and 0.02 [lung] INMT; p = 0.03 [skin] and 0.04 [lung]). ZMPSTE24 and LHFPL2 demonstrated altered expression in late passage skin cells only (p = 0.01 and 0.05 respectively). LHFPL2 was also positively correlated with age in peripheral blood (p value = 6.6 × 10−5). We find that the majority of senescence-associated miRNAs demonstrate tissue-specific effects. However, miRNAs showing common effects across tissue types may represent those associated with core, rather than tissue-specific senescence processes.
Transcription factors govern many of the time- and tissue-specific gene expression events in living organisms. CEH-60, a homolog of the TALE transcription factor PBX in vertebrates, was recently characterized as a new regulator of intestinal lipid mobilization in Caenorhabditis elegans. Because CEH-60’s orthologs and paralogs exhibit several other functions, notably in neuron and muscle development, and because ceh-60 expression is not limited to the C. elegans intestine, we sought to identify additional functions of CEH-60 through DNA adenine methyltransferase identification (DamID). DamID identifies protein-genome interaction sites through GATC-specific methylation. We here report 872 putative CEH-60 gene targets in young adult animals, and 587 in L2 larvae, many of which are associated with neuron development or muscle structure. In light of this, we investigate morphology and function of ceh-60 expressing AWC neurons, and contraction of pharyngeal muscles. We find no clear functional consequences of loss of ceh-60 in these assays, suggesting that in AWC neurons and pharyngeal muscle, CEH-60 function is likely more subtle or redundant with other factors.
As demonstrated in various animal models, organismal longevity can be achieved via interventions that at the mechanistic level could be considered to entail 'defensive' responses: most long-lived mutants focus on somatic maintenance, while reducing growth pathway signalling and protein translation and turnover. We here provide evidence that the opposite mechanism can also lead to longevity and improved health.We report on the mode of action of royalactin, a glycoprotein activator of epidermal growth factor signalling, capable of extending lifespan in several animals. We show that in Caenorhabditis elegans, royalactin-induced longevity depends on increased protein translation and entails increased proteasome activity. We propose the term 'copious longevity' to describe this newly-elucidated mechanism. In contrast to what is true for many other lifespan-extending interventions, we observed no obvious trade-offs between royalactininduced longevity and several life history traits. Our data point towards increased protein turnover to support healthy ageing, and provide a means for future comparative studies of defensive vs. copious mechanisms.
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