Dietary restriction (DR) is the only environmental intervention known to extend adult lifespan in a wide variety of animal models. However, the genetic and cellular events that mediate the anti-aging programs induced by DR remain elusive. Here, we used the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans to provide the first in vivo evidence that a thioredoxin (TRX-1) regulates adult lifespan extension induced by DR. We found that deletion of the gene trx-1 completely suppressed the lifespan extension caused by mutation of eat-2, a genetic surrogate of DR in the worm. However, trx-1 deletion only partially suppressed the long lifespan caused by mutation of the insulin-like receptor gene daf-2 or by mutation of the sensory cilia gene osm-5. A trx-1::GFP translational fusion expressed from its own promoter in ASJ neurons (Ptrx-1::trx-1::GFP) rescued the trx-1 deletion-mediated suppression of the lifespan extension caused by mutation of eat-2. This rescue was not observed when trx-1::GFP was expressed from the ges-1 promoter in the intestine. In addition, overexpression of Ptrx-1::trx-1::GFP extended lifespan in wild type, but not in eat-2 mutants. trx-1 deletion almost completely suppressed the lifespan extension induced by dietary deprivation (DD), a non-genetic, nutrient-based model of DR in the worm. Moreover, DD upregulated the expression of a trx-1 promoter-driven GFP reporter gene (Ptrx-1::GFP) in ASJ neurons of aging adults, but not that of control Pgpa-9::GFP (which is also expressed in ASJ neurons). We propose that DR activates TRX-1 in ASJ neurons during aging, which in turn triggers TRX-1-dependent mechanisms to extend adult lifespan in the worm.
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