Questions Over C. elegans Life Span Factors

A recent paper challenges earlier findings that germline factors expressed in normal body cells influence life span in C. elegans.

Catherine Offord
Catherine Offord
May 31, 2016

NORMAL LIFE: Top: Somatic (blue) and germline (green) cells of C. elegans Bottom: Mutant worms with germline factors in somatic cells are not longer lived.SUSAN STROME, PNAS, 113:3591-96, 2016


The paper
A.K. Knutson et al., “Reevaluation of whether a soma–to–germ-line transformation extends lifespan in Caenorhabditis elegans,” PNAS, 113:3591-96, 2016.

Germline cells are considered immortal, because, unlike somatic cells, they can theoretically replicate indefinitely. In 2009, a study by Gary Ruvkun’s lab at Harvard Medical School reported that an insulin-deficient, long-lived Caenorhabditis elegans mutant, daf-2, misexpressed genes coding for germline factors called P-granules in its somatic cells—a result the team linked back to the mutants’ longevity (Nature, 459:1079-84).

Take two
The findings piqued the curiosity of C. elegans researcher and P-granule expert Susan Strome of the University of California, Santa Cruz. Interested in performing related research, she...