[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The AGC family serine-threonine kinases Akt and Sgk are similar in primary amino acid sequence and in vitro substrate specificity, and both kinases are thought to directly phosphorylate and inhibit FoxO transcription factors. In the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, it is well established that AKT-1 controls dauer arrest and life span by regulating the subcellular localization of the FoxO transcription factor DAF-16. SGK-1 is thought to act similarly to AKT-1 in life span control by phosphorylating and inhibiting the nuclear translocation of DAF-16/FoxO. Using sgk-1 null and gain-of-function mutants, we now provide multiple lines of evidence indicating that AKT-1 and SGK-1 influence C. elegans life span, stress resistance, and DAF-16/FoxO activity in fundamentally different ways. Whereas AKT-1 shortens life span, SGK-1 promotes longevity in a DAF-16/FoxO-dependent manner. In contrast to AKT-1, which reduces resistance to multiple stresses, SGK-1 promotes resistance to oxidative stress and ultraviolet radiation but inhibits thermotolerance. Analysis of several DAF-16/FoxO target genes that are repressed by AKT-1 reveals that SGK-1 represses a subset of these genes while having little influence on the expression of others. Accordingly, unlike AKT-1, which promotes the cytoplasmic sequestration of DAF-16/FoxO, SGK-1 does not influence DAF-16/FoxO subcellular localization. Thus, in spite of their similar in vitro substrate specificities, Akt and Sgk influence longevity, stress resistance, and FoxO activity through distinct mechanisms in vivo. Our findings highlight the need for a re-evaluation of current paradigms of FoxO regulation by Sgk. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: During embryogenesis, an essential process known as dosage compensation is initiated to equalize gene expression from sex chromosomes. Although much is known about how dosage compensation is established, the consequences of modulating the stability of dosage compensation post-embryonically are not known. Here we define a role for the Caenorhabditis elegans dosage compensation complex (DCC) in the regulation of DAF-2 insulin-like signaling. In a screen for dauer regulatory genes that control the activity of the FoxO transcription factor DAF-16, we isolated three mutant alleles of dpy-21, which encodes a conserved DCC component. Knockdown of multiple DCC components in hermaphrodite and male animals indicates that the dauer suppression phenotype of dpy-21 mutants is due to a defect in dosage compensation per se. In dpy-21 mutants, expression of several X-linked genes that promote dauer bypass is elevated, including four genes encoding components of the DAF-2 insulin-like pathway that antagonize DAF-16/FoxO activity. Accordingly, dpy-21 mutation reduced the expression of DAF-16/FoxO target genes by promoting the exclusion of DAF-16/FoxO from nuclei. Thus, dosage compensation enhances dauer arrest by repressing X-linked genes that promote reproductive development through the inhibition of DAF-16/FoxO nuclear translocation. This work is the first to establish a specific post-embryonic function for dosage compensation in any organism. The influence of dosage compensation on dauer arrest, a larval developmental fate governed by the integration of multiple environmental inputs and signaling outputs, suggests that the dosage compensation machinery may respond to external cues by modulating signaling pathways through chromosome-wide regulation of gene expression.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Sterol-sensing nuclear receptors and insulin-like growth factor signaling play evolutionarily conserved roles in the control of aging. In the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, bile-acid-like steroid hormones known as dafachronic acids (DAs) influence longevity by binding to and regulating the activity of the conserved nuclear receptor DAF-12, and the insulin receptor (InsR) ortholog DAF-2 controls life span by inhibiting the FoxO transcription factor DAF-16. How the DA/DAF-12 pathway interacts with DAF-2/InsR signaling to control life span is poorly understood. Here we specifically interrogate the roles of liganded and unliganded DAF-12 in life span control in the context of reduced DAF-2/InsR signaling. In animals with reduced daf-2/InsR activity, mutations that either reduce DA biosynthesis or fully abrogate DAF-12 activity shorten life span, suggesting that liganded DAF-12 promotes longevity. In animals with reduced DAF-2/InsR activity induced by daf-2/InsR RNAi, both liganded and unliganded DAF-12 promote longevity. However, in daf-2/InsR mutants, liganded and unliganded DAF-12 act in opposition to control life span. Thus, multiple DAF-12 activities influence life span in distinct ways in contexts of reduced DAF-2/InsR signaling. Our findings establish new roles for a conserved steroid signaling pathway in life span control and elucidate interactions among DA biosynthetic pathways, DAF-12, and DAF-2/InsR signaling in aging.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: FoxO transcription factors (TFs) extend lifespan in invertebrates and may participate in the control of human longevity. The role of FoxO TFs in lifespan regulation has been studied most extensively inC. elegans, where a conserved insulin/insulin-like growth factor signaling (IIS) pathway and the germline both control lifespan by regulating the subcellular localization of the FoxO transcription factor DAF-16. Although the control of FoxO activity through modulation of its subcellular localization is well established, nuclear translocation of FoxO is not sufficient for full FoxO activation, suggesting that undiscovered inputs regulate FoxO activity after its translocation to the nucleus. We have recently discovered a new conserved pathway, the EAK (enhancer-of-akt-1) pathway, which acts in parallel to the Akt/PKB family of serine-threonine kinases to regulate DAF-16/FoxO activity. Whereas mutation of Akt/PKB promotes the nuclear accumulation of DAF-16/FoxO, mutation of eak genes increases nuclear DAF-16/FoxO activity without influencing DAF-16/FoxO subcellular localization. Thus, EAK proteins regulate the activity of nuclear DAF-16/FoxO. Two EAK proteins, EAK-2/HSD-1 and EAK-7, influence C. elegans lifespan and are conserved in mammals. The discovery of the EAK pathway defines a new conserved FoxO regulatory input and may have implications relevant to aging and the pathogenesis of aging-associated diseases.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: FoxO transcription factors control development and longevity in diverse species. Although FoxO regulation via changes in its subcellular localization is well established, little is known about how FoxO activity is regulated in the nucleus. Here, we show that the conserved C. elegans protein EAK-7 acts in parallel to the serine/threonine kinase AKT-1 to inhibit the FoxO transcription factor DAF-16. Loss of EAK-7 activity promotes diapause and longevity in a DAF-16/FoxO-dependent manner. Whereas akt-1 mutation activates DAF-16/FoxO by promoting its translocation from the cytoplasm to the nucleus, eak-7 mutation increases nuclear DAF-16/FoxO activity without influencing DAF-16/FoxO subcellular localization. Thus, EAK-7 and AKT-1 inhibit DAF-16/FoxO activity via distinct mechanisms. Our results implicate EAK-7 as a FoxO regulator and highlight the biological impact of a regulatory pathway that governs the activity of nuclear FoxO without altering its subcellular location.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Steroid hormone and insulin/insulin-like growth factor signaling (IIS) pathways control development and lifespan in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans by regulating the activity of the nuclear receptor DAF-12 and the FoxO transcription factor DAF-16, respectively. The DAF-12 ligands Delta(4)- and Delta(7)-dafachronic acid (DA) promote bypass of the dauer diapause and proper gonadal migration during larval development; in adults, DAs influence lifespan. Whether Delta(4)- and Delta(7)-DA have unique biological functions is not known. We identified the 3-beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (3betaHSD) family member HSD-1, which participates in Delta(4)-DA biosynthesis, as an inhibitor of DAF-16/FoxO activity. Whereas IIS promotes the cytoplasmic sequestration of DAF-16/FoxO, HSD-1 inhibits nuclear DAF-16/FoxO activity without affecting DAF-16/FoxO subcellular localization. Thus, HSD-1 and IIS inhibit DAF-16/FoxO activity via distinct and complementary mechanisms. In adults, HSD-1 was required for full lifespan extension in IIS mutants, indicating that HSD-1 interactions with IIS are context-dependent. In contrast to the Delta(7)-DA biosynthetic enzyme DAF-36, HSD-1 is dispensable for proper gonadal migration and lifespan extension induced by germline ablation. These findings provide insights into the molecular interface between DA and IIS pathways and suggest that Delta(4)- and Delta(7)-DA pathways have unique as well as overlapping biological functions in the control of development and lifespan.