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Aging Cell. 2006 Apr;5(2):127-38.

The nuclear hormone receptor DAF-12 has opposing effects on Caenorhabditis elegans lifespan and regulates genes repressed in multiple long-lived worms.

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Division of Geriatrics, Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, 94121, USA.


The orphan nuclear hormone receptor gene daf-12 in Caenorhabditis elegans plays a key role in the regulation of development and determination of adult longevity. To understand the effects of daf-12 on aging we characterized the lifespan of loss-of-function and gain-of-function daf-12 alleles that have been identified on the basis of their effects on dauer development. We find that these mutations have opposing effects on longevity and resistance to oxidative and thermal stress which makes daf-12 the first gene with alleles that can extend or shorten lifespan. We find that the shortened lifespan of the loss-of-function mutation is due to accelerated aging in young adulthood rather than an adverse effect of the mutation on development. Microarray analysis of worms carrying the two alleles revealed a relatively small number of genes differentially expressed between the two genotypes. Comparison of the expression profiles with the profiles associated with dauer formation and long-lived daf-2 mutants revealed that while the profiles are largely different, there is significant overlap among the genes down-regulated, but not up-regulated, in all profiles. Several of these genes down-regulated in multiple long-lived worms have known effects on lifespan, and many of the genes belong to a family of poorly characterized genes that are strongly down-regulated in dauers, daf-2 mutants, and long-lived daf-12 mutants. Our results point to daf-12 modulating aging and stress responses in part through the repression of specific genes, and emphasize the role that the repression of genes that curtail maximal lifespan plays in lifespan determination.

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