A Steroid Receptor–MicroRNA Switch Regulates Life Span in Response to Signals from the Gonad

Science  14 Dec 2012:
Vol. 338, Issue 6113, pp. 1472-1476
DOI: 10.1126/science.1228967

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Although the gonad primarily functions in procreation, it also affects animal life span. Here, we show that removal of the Caenorhabditis elegans germ line triggers a switch in the regulatory state of the organism to promote longevity, co-opting components involved in larval developmental timing circuits. These components include the DAF-12 steroid receptor, which is involved in the larval stage two–to–stage three (L2-L3) transition and up-regulates members of the let-7 microRNA (miRNA) family. The miRNAs target an early larval nuclear factor lin-14 and akt-1/kinase, thereby stimulating DAF-16/FOXO signaling to extend life. Our studies suggest that metazoan life span is coupled to the gonad through elements of a developmental timer.

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