Two pleiotropic classes of daf-2 mutation affect larval arrest, adult behavior, reproduction and longevity in Caenorhabditis elegans

Genetics. 1998 Sep;150(1):129-55.


The nematode Caenorhabditis elegans responds to overcrowding and scarcity of food by arresting development as a dauer larva, a nonfeeding, long-lived, stress-resistant, alternative third-larval stage. Previous work has shown that mutations in the genes daf-2 (encoding a member of the insulin receptor family) and age-1 (encoding a PI 3-kinase) result in constitutive formation of dauer larvae (Daf-c), increased adult longevity (Age), and increased intrinsic thermotolerance (Itt). Some daf-2 mutants have additional developmental, behavioral, and reproductive defects. We have characterized in detail 15 temperature-sensitive and 1 nonconditional daf-2 allele to investigate the extent of daf-2 mutant defects and to examine whether specific mutant traits correlate with each other. The greatest longevity seen in daf-2 mutant adults was approximately three times that of wild type. The temperature-sensitive daf-2 mutants fell into two overlapping classes, including eight class 1 mutants, which are Daf-c, Age, and Itt, and exhibit low levels of L1 arrest at 25.5 degrees. Seven class 2 mutants also exhibit the class 1 defects as well as some or all of the following: reduced adult motility, abnormal adult body and gonad morphology, high levels of embryonic and L1 arrest, production of progeny late in life, and reduced brood size. The strengths of the Daf-c, Age, and Itt phenotypes largely correlated with each other but not with the strength of class 2-specific defects. This suggests that the DAF-2 receptor is bifunctional. Examination of the null phenotype revealed a maternally rescued egg, L1 lethal component, and a nonconditional Daf-c component. With respect to the Daf-c phenotype, the dauer-defective (Daf-d) mutation daf-12(m20) was epistatic to daf-2 class 1 alleles but not the severe class 2 alleles tested. All daf-2 mutant defects were suppressed by the daf-d mutation daf-16(m26). Our findings suggest a new model for daf-2, age-1, daf-12, and daf-16 interactions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Alleles
  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / genetics
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / growth & development*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / physiology
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins
  • DNA Primers
  • Female
  • Fertility
  • Genes, Helminth
  • Larva / growth & development
  • Male
  • Mutation*
  • Phenotype
  • Receptor, Insulin / genetics*


  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins
  • DNA Primers
  • DAF-2 protein, C elegans
  • Receptor, Insulin