The antiglycemic drug metformin, widely prescribed as first-line treatment of type II diabetes mellitus, has lifespan-extending properties. Precisely how this is achieved remains unclear. Via a quantitative proteomics approach using the model organism Caenorhabditis elegans, we gained molecular understanding of the physiological changes elicited by metformin exposure, including changes in branched-chain amino acid catabolism and cuticle maintenance. We show that metformin extends lifespan through the process of mitohormesis and propose a signaling cascade in which metformin-induced production of reactive oxygen species increases overall life expectancy. We further address an important issue in aging research, wherein so far, the key molecular link that translates the reactive oxygen species signal into a prolongevity cue remained elusive. We show that this beneficial signal of the mitohormetic pathway is propagated by the peroxiredoxin PRDX-2. Because of its evolutionary conservation, peroxiredoxin signaling might underlie a general principle of prolongevity signaling.
SummaryMetformin is the first-line therapy for treating type 2 diabetes and a promising anti-aging drug. We set out to address the fundamental question of how gut microbes and nutrition, key regulators of host physiology, affect the effects of metformin. Combining two tractable genetic models, the bacterium E. coli and the nematode C. elegans, we developed a high-throughput four-way screen to define the underlying host-microbe-drug-nutrient interactions. We show that microbes integrate cues from metformin and the diet through the phosphotransferase signaling pathway that converges on the transcriptional regulator Crp. A detailed experimental characterization of metformin effects downstream of Crp in combination with metabolic modeling of the microbiota in metformin-treated type 2 diabetic patients predicts the production of microbial agmatine, a regulator of metformin effects on host lipid metabolism and lifespan. Our high-throughput screening platform paves the way for identifying exploitable drug-nutrient-microbiome interactions to improve host health and longevity through targeted microbiome therapies.Video Abstract
Structure-activity studies for the adipokinetic hormone receptor of insects were for the first time performed in a cellular expression system. A series of single amino acid replacement analogues for the endogenous adipokinetic hormone of Drosophila melanogaster (pGlu-Leu-Thr-Phe-Ser-Pro-Asp-Trp-NH(2)) were screened for activity with a bioluminescence cellular assay, expressing the G-protein coupled receptor. For this series of peptide analogues, one amino acid of the N-terminal tetrapeptide was successively replaced by alanine, while those of the C-terminal tetrapeptide were successively substituted by glycine; other modifications included the blocked N- and C-termini that were replaced by an acetylated alanine and a hydroxyl group, respectively. The analogue series was tested on the AKH receptors of two dipteran species, D. melanogaster and Anopheles gambiae. The blocked termini of the AKH peptide probably play a minor role in receptor interaction and activation, but are considered functionally important elements to protect the peptide against exopeptidases. In contrast, the amino acids at positions 2, 3, 4 and 5 from the N-terminus all seem to be crucial for receptor activation. This can be explained by the potential presence of a β-strand in this part of the peptide that interacts with the receptor. The inferred β-strand is probably followed by a β-turn in which the amino acids at positions 5-8 are involved. In this β-turn, the residues at positions 6 and 8 seem to be essential, as their substitutions induce only a very low degree of receptor activation. Replacement of Asp(7), by contrast, does not influence receptor activation at all. This implies that its side chain is folded inside the β-turn so that no interaction with the receptor occurs.
Royalactin is a glycoprotein essential for the development of long-lived queen honeybees. Only larvae fed with royal jelly, containing royalactin, develop into queens. Royalactin plays a central role in this process by switching on the epidermal growth factor (EGF) receptor signaling pathway which ultimately leads to epigenetic changes and a long-lived queen phenotype. Recently it was shown that royalactin by itself also extends lifespan in Drosophila melanogaster. Yet, the mechanism by which royalactin promotes longevity remains largely unknown. We set out to characterize the effects of royalactin on Caenorhabditis elegans lifespan, and clarify the possible involvement of EGF signaling in this process. We demonstrate that royalactin extends lifespan of this nematode and that both EGF (LIN-3) and its receptor (LET-23) are essential to this process. To our knowledge, this is the first report of royalactin-mediated lifespan extension in a non-insect species. Additionally, we show that royalactin enhances locomotion in adult nematodes, implying that royalactin also influences healthspan. Our results suggest that royalactin is an important lifespan-extending factor in royal jelly and acts by promoting EGF signaling in C. elegans. Further work will now be needed to clarify which (secondary) signaling pathways are activated by royalactin, and how this ultimately translates into an extended health- and lifespan.
-Omics data have become indispensable to systems biology, which aims to describe the full complexity of functional cells, tissues, organs and organisms. Generating vast amounts of data via such methods, researchers have invested in ways of handling and interpreting these. From the large volumes of -omics data that have been gathered over the years, it is clear that the information derived from one -ome is usually far from complete. Now, individual techniques and methods for integration are maturing to the point that researchers can focus on network-based integration rather than simply interpreting single -ome studies. This review evaluates the application of integrated -omics approaches with a focus on Caenorhabditis elegans studies, intending to direct researchers in this field to useful databases and inspiring examples.
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.
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