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Mol Cells. 2015 Mar;38(3):236-42. doi: 10.14348/molcells.2015.2282. Epub 2015 Jan 16.

Caffeine induces high expression of cyp-35A family genes and inhibits the early larval development in Caenorhabditis elegans.

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Department of Bioscience and Biotechnology, Konkuk University, Seoul 143-701, Korea.
Institute of KU Biotechnology, Konkuk University, Seoul 143-701, Korea.


Intake of caffeine during pregnancy can cause retardation of fetal development. Although the significant influence of caffeine on animal development is widely recognized, much remains unknown about its mode of action because of its pleiotropic effects on living organisms. In the present study, by using Caenorhabditis elegans as a model organism, the effects of caffeine on development were examined. Brood size, embryonic lethality, and percent larval development were investigated, and caffeine was found to inhibit the development of C. elegans at most of the stages in a dosage-dependent fashion. Upon treatment with 30 mM caffeine, the majority (86.1 ± 3.4%) of the L1 larvae were irreversibly arrested without further development. In contrast, many of the late-stage larvae survived and grew to adults when exposed to the same 30 mM caffeine. These results suggest that early-stage larvae are more susceptible to caffeine than later-stage larvae. To understand the metabolic responses to caffeine treatment, the levels of expression of cytochrome P450 (cyp) genes were examined with or without caffeine treatment using comparative micro-array, and it was found that the expression of 24 cyp genes was increased by more than 2-fold (p < 0.05). Among them, induction of the cyp-35A gene family was the most prominent. Interestingly, depletion of the cyp-35A family genes one-by-one or in combination through RNA interference resulted in partial rescue from early larval developmental arrest caused by caffeine treatment, suggesting that the high-level induction of cyp-35A family genes can be fatal to the development of early-stage larvae.


C. elegans development; RNA interference; caffeine; microarray

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