The life span of C. elegans can be increased via reduced function of the mitochondria; however, the extent to which mitochondrial alteration in a single, distinct tissue may influence aging in the whole organism remains unknown. We addressed this question by asking whether manipulations to ETC function can modulate aging in a cell-non-autonomous fashion. We report that the alteration of mitochondrial function in key tissues is essential for establishing and maintaining a prolongevity cue. We find that regulators of mitochondrial stress responses are essential and specific genetic requirements for the electron transport chain (ETC) longevity pathway. Strikingly, we find that mitochondrial perturbation in one tissue is perceived and acted upon by the mitochondrial stress response pathway in a distal tissue. These results suggest that mitochondria may establish and perpetuate the rate of aging for the whole organism independent of cell-autonomous functions.
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