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Cell Metab. 2006 Dec;4(6):429-40.

Serotonin targets the DAF-16/FOXO signaling pathway to modulate stress responses.

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  • 1Department of Anatomy & Neurobiology, School of Medicine, University of California, Irvine, Irvine, California 92697, USA.


Stress response is a fundamental form of behavioral and physiological plasticity. Here we describe how serotonin (5HT) governs stress behavior by regulating DAF-2 insulin/IGF-1 receptor signaling to the DAF-16/FOXO transcription factor at the nexus of development, metabolism, immunity, and stress responses in C. elegans. Serotonin-deficient tph-1 mutants, like daf-2 mutants, exhibit DAF-16 nuclear accumulation and constitutive physiological stress states. Exogenous 5HT and fluoxetine (Prozac) prevented DAF-16 nuclear accumulation in wild-type animals under stresses. Genetic analyses imply that DAF-2 is a downstream target of 5HT signaling and that distinct serotonergic neurons act through distinct 5HT receptors to influence distinct DAF-16-mediated stress responses. We suggest that modulation of FOXO by 5HT represents an ancient feature of stress physiology and that the C. elegans is a genetically tractable model that can be used to delineate the molecular mechanisms and drug actions linking 5HT, neuroendocrine signaling, immunity, and mitochondrial function.

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