Gene pathways that delay Caenorhabditis elegans reproductive senescence

PLoS Genet. 2014 Dec 4;10(12):e1004752. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1004752. eCollection 2014 Dec.


Reproductive senescence is a hallmark of aging. The molecular mechanisms regulating reproductive senescence and its association with the aging of somatic cells remain poorly understood. From a full genome RNA interference (RNAi) screen, we identified 32 Caenorhabditis elegans gene inactivations that delay reproductive senescence and extend reproductive lifespan. We found that many of these gene inactivations interact with insulin/IGF-1 and/or TGF-β endocrine signaling pathways to regulate reproductive senescence, except nhx-2 and sgk-1 that modulate sodium reabsorption. Of these 32 gene inactivations, we also found that 19 increase reproductive lifespan through their effects on oocyte activities, 8 of them coordinate oocyte and sperm functions to extend reproductive lifespan, and 5 of them can induce sperm humoral response to promote reproductive longevity. Furthermore, we examined the effects of these reproductive aging regulators on somatic aging. We found that 5 of these gene inactivations prolong organismal lifespan, and 20 of them increase healthy life expectancy of an organism without altering total life span. These studies provide a systemic view on the genetic regulation of reproductive senescence and its intersection with organism longevity. The majority of these newly identified genes are conserved, and may provide new insights into age-associated reproductive senescence during human aging.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aging / genetics*
  • Animals
  • Animals, Genetically Modified
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / genetics*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / physiology
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Gene Regulatory Networks*
  • Gene Silencing
  • Genome-Wide Association Study
  • Longevity / genetics*
  • Male
  • RNA Interference
  • Reproduction / genetics*
  • Signal Transduction / genetics