daf-16 integrates developmental and environmental inputs to mediate aging in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans

Curr Biol. 2001 Dec 11;11(24):1975-80. doi: 10.1016/s0960-9822(01)00594-2.


Evolutionary models of aging propose that a trade-off exists between the resources an organism devotes to reproduction and growth and those devoted to cellular maintenance and repair, such that an optimal life history always entails an imperfect ability to resist stress. Yet, since environmental stressors, such as caloric restriction or exposure to mild stress, can increase stress resistance and life span, it is possible that a common genetic mechanism could regulate the allocation of resources in response to a changing environment (for overview, see ). Consistent with predictions of evolutionary trade-off models, we show that nematodes carrying an integrated DAF-16::GFP transgene grow and reproduce more slowly yet are more stress resistant and longer lived than controls carrying the integration marker alone. We also show that the nuclear localization of the DAF-16::GFP fusion protein responds to environmental inputs as well as genetic. Environmental stresses, such as starvation, heat, and oxidative stress, cause rapid nuclear localization of DAF-16. In conditions rich in food, we find that DAF-16::GFP is inhibited from entry into the nucleus by daf-2 and akt-1/akt-2, both components of insulin-like signaling in nematodes. We suggest that changes in the subcellular localization of DAF-16 by environmental cues allows for rapid reallocation of resources in response to a changing environment at all stages of life.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aging / genetics
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / physiology*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins*
  • Fertility
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • Luminescent Proteins / genetics
  • Stress, Physiological / physiopathology
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / physiology*
  • Transgenes


  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors
  • Luminescent Proteins
  • Transcription Factors
  • daf-16 protein, C elegans
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins