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Aging Cell. 2011 Oct;10(5):879-84. doi: 10.1111/j.1474-9726.2011.00733.x. Epub 2011 Aug 7.

The Rieske oxygenase DAF-36 functions as a cholesterol 7-desaturase in steroidogenic pathways governing longevity.

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  • 1Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Huffington Center on Aging, Baylor College of Medicine, One Baylor Plaza, Houston, TX 77030, USA.


Bile acids are cholesterol-derived signaling molecules that regulate mammalian metabolism through sterol-sensing nuclear receptor transcription factors. In C. elegans, bile acid-like steroids called dafachronic acids (DAs) control developmental timing and longevity by activating the nuclear receptor DAF-12. However, little is known about the biosynthesis of these molecules. Here, we show that the DAF-36/Rieske oxygenase works at the first committed step, converting cholesterol to 7-dehydrocholesterol. Its elucidation as a cholesterol 7-desaturase provides crucial biochemical evidence that such oxygenases are key steroidogenic enzymes. By controlling DA production, DAF-36 regulates DAF-12 activities for reproductive development and longevity and may illuminate related pathways in metazoans.

© 2011 The Authors. Aging Cell © 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd/Anatomical Society of Great Britain and Ireland.

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