Research Summary: The Interplay between Protein L-Isoaspartyl Methyltransferase Activity and Insulin-Like Signaling to Extend Lifespan in Caenorhabditis elegans


The protein L-isoaspartyl-O-methyltransferase functions to initiate the repair of isomerized aspartyl and asparaginyl residues that spontaneously accumulate with age in a variety of organisms. Caenorhabditis elegans nematodes lacking the pcm-1 gene encoding this enzyme display a normal lifespan and phenotype under standard laboratory growth conditions. However, significant defects in development, egg laying, dauer survival, and autophagy have been observed in pcm-1 mutant nematodes when deprived of food and when exposed to oxidative stress. Interestingly, overexpression of this repair enzyme in both Drosophila and C. elegans extends adult lifespan under thermal stress. In this work, we show the involvement of the insulin/insulin-like growth factor-1 signaling (IIS) pathway in PCM-1-dependent lifespan extension in C. elegans. We demonstrate that reducing the levels of the DAF-16 downstream transcriptional effector of the IIS pathway by RNA interference reduces the lifespan extension resulting from PCM-1 overexpression. Using quantitative real-time PCR analysis, we show the up-regulation of DAF-16-dependent stress response genes in the PCM-1 overexpressor animals compared to wild-type and pcm-1 mutant nematodes under mild thermal stress conditions. Additionally, similar to other long-lived C. elegans mutants in the IIS pathway, including daf-2 and age-1 mutants, PCM-1 overexpressor adult animals display increased resistance to severe thermal stress, whereas pcm-1 mutant animals survive less long under these conditions. Although we observe a higher accumulation of damaged proteins in pcm-1 mutant nematodes, the basal level of isoaspartyl residues detected in wild-type animals was not reduced by PCM-1 overexpression. Our results support a signaling role for the protein L-isoaspartyl methyltransferase in lifespan extension that involves the IIS pathway, but that may be independent of its function in overall protein repair.


Publisher: Public Library of Science

Date Published: 13-June-2011

Author(s): Khare S., Linster C., Clarke S.


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