Histone demethylase UTX-1 regulates C. elegans life span by targeting the insulin/IGF-1 signaling pathway

Cell Metab. 2011 Aug 3;14(2):161-72. doi: 10.1016/j.cmet.2011.07.001.


Epigenetic modifications are thought to be important for gene expression changes during development and aging. However, besides the Sir2 histone deacetylase in somatic tissues and H3K4 trimethylation in germlines, there is scant evidence implicating epigenetic regulations in aging. The insulin/IGF-1 signaling (IIS) pathway is a major life span regulatory pathway. Here, we show that progressive increases in gene expression and loss of H3K27me3 on IIS components are due, at least in part, to increased activity of the H3K27 demethylase UTX-1 during aging. RNAi of the utx-1 gene extended the mean life span of C. elegans by ~30%, dependent on DAF-16 activity and not additive in daf-2 mutants. The loss of utx-1 increased H3K27me3 on the Igf1r/daf-2 gene and decreased IIS activity, leading to a more "naive" epigenetic state. Like stem cell reprogramming, our results suggest that reestablishment of epigenetic marks lost during aging might help "reset" the developmental age of animal cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aging*
  • Animals
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / enzymology*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / genetics
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins / genetics
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins / metabolism
  • Down-Regulation
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors
  • Histone Demethylases / genetics
  • Histone Demethylases / metabolism*
  • Insulin / metabolism
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / metabolism
  • RNA Interference
  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • Receptor, Insulin / genetics
  • Signal Transduction*
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism


  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors
  • Insulin
  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • Transcription Factors
  • daf-16 protein, C elegans
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I
  • Histone Demethylases
  • DAF-2 protein, C elegans
  • Receptor, Insulin

Associated data

  • GEO/GSE29896