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Development. 2004 Apr;131(8):1765-76. Epub 2004 Mar 17.

Hormonal signals produced by DAF-9/cytochrome P450 regulate C. elegans dauer diapause in response to environmental cues.

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  • 1Max-Planck-Institut für Molekulare Genetik, Ihnestrasse 73, D-14195 Berlin, Germany.


In response to the environment, the nematode C. elegans must choose between arrest at a long-lived alternate third larval stage, the dauer diapause, or reproductive development. This decision may ultimately be mediated by daf-9, a cytochrome P450 related to steroidogenic hydroxylases and its cognate nuclear receptor daf-12, implying organism-wide coordination by lipophilic hormones. Accordingly, here we show that daf-9(+) works cell non-autonomously to bypass diapause, and promote gonadal outgrowth. Among daf-9-expressing cells, the hypodermis is most visibly regulated by environmental inputs, including dietary cholesterol. On in reproductive growth, off in dauer, hypodermal daf-9 expression is strictly daf-12 dependent, suggesting feedback regulation. Expressing daf-9 constitutively in hypodermis rescues dauer phenotypes of daf-9, as well as insulin/IGF receptor and TGFbeta mutants, revealing that daf-9 is an important downstream point of control within the dauer circuits. This study illuminates how endocrine networks integrate environmental cues and transduce them into adaptive life history choices.

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