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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 Sep 23;105(38):14288-92. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0806676105. Epub 2008 Sep 12.

A potent dauer pheromone component in Caenorhabditis elegans that acts synergistically with other components.

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Department of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, Harvard Medical School, 240 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


In the model organism Caenorhabditis elegans, the dauer pheromone is the primary cue for entry into the developmentally arrested, dauer larval stage. The dauer is specialized for survival under harsh environmental conditions and is considered "nonaging" because larvae that exit dauer have a normal life span. C. elegans constitutively secretes the dauer pheromone into its environment, enabling it to sense its population density. Several components of the dauer pheromone have been identified as derivatives of the dideoxy sugar ascarylose, but additional unidentified components of the dauer pheromone contribute to its activity. Here, we show that an ascaroside with a 3-hydroxypropionate side chain is a highly potent component of the dauer pheromone that acts synergistically with previously identified components. Furthermore, we show that the active dauer pheromone components that are produced by C. elegans vary depending on cultivation conditions. Identifying the active components of the dauer pheromone, the conditions under which they are produced, and their mechanisms of action will greatly extend our understanding of how chemosensory cues from the environment can influence such fundamental processes as development, metabolism, and aging in nematodes and in higher organisms.

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