Control of body size in C. elegans dependent on food and insulin/IGF-1 signal

Genes Cells. 2011 Jun;16(6):639-51. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2443.2011.01514.x. Epub 2011 Apr 18.


The body size of an organism is governed by genetic and environmental factors. As an environmental factor, food appears to be the most important for body size control in animals. C. elegans worms are usually grown on an E. coli strain OP50. We show that the wild-type worms fed on another E. coli strain HB101 grow 1.6 times as large as those fed on OP50. The regression line representing the relationship between the sizes of worms grown on each food for over 30 mutants was drawn, indicating that small mutants tend to be more affected by the change in food. Mutants for the DAF-2 insulin/IGF-1 receptor and downstream SGK-1, a homolog of the serum- and glucocorticoid-inducible kinase, grow less or little larger on HB101, indicating control of body size by these factors. Results on the suppression of mutations in these factors by a mutation in the DAF-16/FOXO transcription factor indicate both DAF-16-dependent and DAF-16-independent control. Furthermore, we show that the food-dependent body size change is because of a change in cell size that is closely related to the protein content per cell.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Size / genetics
  • Body Size / physiology*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / genetics*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / growth & development*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / metabolism
  • Cell Size
  • Diet*
  • Escherichia coli / cytology
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Insulin / genetics
  • Insulin / metabolism*
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / genetics
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / metabolism*
  • Mutation / genetics
  • Protein Biosynthesis / genetics
  • Signal Transduction*


  • Insulin
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I