Longevity determined by developmental arrest genes in Caenorhabditis elegans

Aging Cell. 2007 Aug;6(4):525-33. doi: 10.1111/j.1474-9726.2007.00305.x. Epub 2007 May 29.


The antagonistic pleiotropy theory of aging proposes that aging takes place because natural selection favors genes that confer benefit early on life at the cost of deterioration later in life. This theory predicts that genes that impact development would play a key role in shaping adult lifespan. To better understand the link between development and adult lifespan, we examined the genes previously known to be essential for development. From a pool of 57 genes that cause developmental arrest after inhibition using RNA interference, we have identified 24 genes that extend lifespan in Caenorhabditis elegans when inactivated during adulthood. Many of these genes are involved in regulation of mRNA translation and mitochondrial functions. Genetic epistasis experiments indicate that the mechanisms of lifespan extension by inactivating the identified genes may be different from those of the insulin/insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) and dietary restriction pathways. Inhibition of many of these genes also results in increased stress resistance and decreased fecundity, suggesting that they may mediate the trade-offs between somatic maintenance and reproduction. We have isolated novel lifespan-extension genes, which may help understand the intrinsic link between organism development and adult lifespan.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aging / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / enzymology
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / genetics*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / physiology*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Genes, Developmental*
  • Genes, Helminth*
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / genetics
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / metabolism
  • Longevity / genetics*
  • Longevity / physiology
  • Mutation
  • Oxidative Stress
  • RNA Interference
  • Receptors, Nicotinic / genetics
  • Receptors, Nicotinic / metabolism
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism


  • Receptors, Nicotinic
  • Transcription Factors
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I