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Nat Genet. 2001 Jun;28(2):139-45.

Regulation of the Caenorhabditis elegans longevity protein DAF-16 by insulin/IGF-1 and germline signaling.

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Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California, USA.


The lifespan of Caenorhabditis elegans is regulated by the insulin/insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-1 receptor homolog DAF-2, which signals through a conserved phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI 3-kinase)/Akt pathway. Mutants in this pathway remain youthful and active much longer than normal animals and can live more than twice as long. This lifespan extension requires DAF-16, a forkhead/winged-helix transcription factor. DAF-16 is thought to be the main target of the DAF-2 pathway. Insulin/IGF-1 signaling is thought to lead to phosphorylation of DAF-16 by AKT activity, which in turn shortens lifespan. Here, we show that the DAF-2 pathway prevents DAF-16 accumulation in nuclei. Disrupting Akt-consensus phosphorylation sites in DAF-16 causes nuclear accumulation in wild-type animals, but, surprisingly, has little effect on lifespan. Thus the DAF-2 pathway must have additional outputs. Lifespan in C. elegans can be extended by perturbing sensory neurons or germ cells. In both cases, lifespan extension requires DAF-16. We find that both sensory neurons and germline activity regulate DAF-16 accumulation in nuclei, but the nuclear localization patterns are different. Together these findings reveal unexpected complexity in the DAF-16-dependent pathways that regulate aging.

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