Cadmium is an environmental toxicant whose exposure is associated with multiple human pathologies. To prevent cadmium-induced toxicity, organisms produce a variety of detoxification molecules. In response to cadmium, the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans increases the steady-state levels of several hundred genes, including two metallothioneins, mtl-1 and mtl-2, and the cadmium-specific response gene, cdr-1. Despite the presumed importance in metal detoxification of mtl-1 and mtl-2, knockdown of their expression does not increase cadmium hypersensitivity, which suggests that these genes are not required for resistance to metal toxicity in C. elegans. To determine whether cdr-1 is critical in metal detoxification and compensates for the loss of mtl-1 and/or mtl-2, C. elegans strains were generated in which one, two, and all three genes were deleted, and the effects of cadmium on brood size, embryonic lethality, the Bag phenotype, and growth were determined. Growth at low cadmium concentrations was the only endpoint in which the triple mutant displayed more sensitivity than the single and double mutants. A lack of hypersensitivity in these strains suggests that other factors may be involved in the response to cadmium. Caenorhabditis elegans produces phytochelatins (PCs) that are critical in the defense against cadmium toxicity. PC levels in wild type, cdr-1 single, mtl-1, mtl-2 double, and triple mutants were measured. PC levels were constitutively higher in the mtl-1, mtl-2 double, and triple mutants compared with wild type. Following cadmium exposure, PC levels increased. The lack of cadmium hypersensitivity when these genes are deleted may be attributed to the compensatory effects of increases in PCs.
"As the name suggests, they were originally thought to be found only in plants, but two independent studies demonstrated that the PCS from the nematode C. elegans produced PCs when cloned into an appropriate microbial host and that a C. elegans PCS knockout was hypersensitive to cadmium [10,11]. Treating C. elegans with cadmium also led to an increase in tissue concentrations of PC2 and PC3 [12,13]. More recently, a functional PCS has been demonstrated in a second animal phylum (Platyhelminthes), as the Schistosoma mansoni PCS is also cadmium-responsive when cloned into baker’s yeast , although PC production has not yet been observed in the S. mansoni flukes themselves . "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Phytochelatins are small cysteine-rich non-ribosomal peptides that chelate soft metal and metalloid ions, such as cadmium and arsenic. They are widely produced by plants and microbes; phytochelatin synthase genes are also present in animal species from several different phyla, but there is still little known about whether these genes are functional in animals, and if so, whether they are metal-responsive. We analysed phytochelatin production by direct chemical analysis in Lumbricus rubellus earthworms exposed to arsenic for a 28 day period, and found that arsenic clearly induced phytochelatin production in a dose-dependent manner. It was necessary to measure the phytochelatin metabolite concentrations directly, as there was no upregulation of phytochelatin synthase gene expression after 28 days: phytochelatin synthesis appears not to be transcriptionally regulated in animals. A further untargetted metabolomic analysis also found changes in metabolites associated with the transsulfuration pathway, which channels sulfur flux from methionine for phytochelatin synthesis. There was no evidence of biological transformation of arsenic (e.g. into methylated species) as a result of laboratory arsenic exposure. Finally, we compared wild populations of earthworms sampled from the field, and found that both arsenic-contaminated and cadmium-contaminated mine site worms had elevated phytochelatin concentrations.
PLoS ONE 11/2013; 8(11):e81271. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0081271 · 3.23 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Phytochelatins are sulfur-rich metal-binding peptides, and phytochelatin synthesis is one of the key mechanisms by which plants protect themselves against toxic soft metal ions such as cadmium. It has been known for a while now that some invertebrates also possess functional phytochelatin synthase (PCS) enzymes, and that at least one species, the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, produces phytochelatins to help detoxify cadmium, and probably also other metal and metalloid ions including arsenic, zinc, selenium, silver, and copper. Here, we review recent studies on the occurrence, utilization, and regulation of phytochelatin synthesis in invertebrates. The phytochelatin synthase gene has a wide phylogenetic distribution, and can be found in species that cover almost all of the animal tree of life. The evidence to date, though, suggests that the occurrence is patchy, and even though some members of particular taxonomic groups may contain PCS genes, there are also many species without these genes. For animal species that do possess PCS genes, some of them (e.g. earthworms) do synthesize phytochelatins in response to potentially toxic elements, whereas others (e.g. Schistosoma mansoni, a parasitic helminth) do not appear to do so. Just how (and if) phytochelatins in invertebrates complement the function of metallothioneins remains to be elucidated, and the temporal, spatial, and metal specificity of the two systems is still unknown.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Recent studies suggest that royal jelly (RJ) and its related substances may have antiaging properties. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying the beneficial effects remain elusive. We report that the effects of RJ and enzyme-treated RJ (eRJ) on life span and health span in Caenorhabditis elegans (C elegans) are modulated by the sophisticated interplays of DAF-16, SIR-2.1, HCF-1, and 14-3-3 proteins. Dietary supplementation with RJ or eRJ increased C. elegans life span in a dose-dependent manner. The RJ and eRJ consumption increased the tolerance of C elegans to oxidative stress, ultraviolet irradiation, and heat shock stress. Our genetic analyses showed that RJ/eRJ-mediated life-span extension requires insulin/IGF-1 signaling and the activities of DAF-16, SIR-2.1, HCF-1, and FTT-2, a 14-3-3 protein. Earlier studies reported that DAF-16/FOXO, SIR-2.1/SIRT1, FTT-2, and HCF-1 have extensive interplays in worms and mammals. Our present findings suggest that RJ/eRJ-mediated promotion of longevity and stress resistance in C elegans is dependent on these conserved interplays. From an evolutionary point of view, this study not only provides new insights into the molecular mechanisms of RJ's action on health span promotion in C elegans, but also has imperative implications in using RJ/eRJ as nutraceuticals to delay aging and age-related disorders.
The Journals of Gerontology Series A Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences 07/2014; 70(7). DOI:10.1093/gerona/glu120 · 5.42 Impact Factor
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