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Genetic markers enable the verification and manipulation of the dauer entry decision

Shih, Pei-Yin and Lee, James Siho and Sternberg, Paul W. (2019) Genetic markers enable the verification and manipulation of the dauer entry decision. Developmental Biology, 454 (2). pp. 170-180. ISSN 0012-1606. doi:10.1016/j.ydbio.2019.06.009.

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Phenotypic plasticity allows animals to survive in changing environments through the alteration of phenotypes or development. One of the best-studied examples of phenotypic plasticity is dauer larval development in the free-living roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans. When faced with hostile environments, C. elegans larvae can exit reproductive development and enter the stress-resistant and spore-like dauer larval stage. However, knowledge about how the dauer entry decision is made, and how the different tissues of the animal coordinate to execute transformation into dauer, is limited. This is because identifying animals that make the entry decision, or that fail to coordinately remodel their tissues during dauer development, is time-consuming and labor-intensive. Utilizing our previously reported RNA-seq of animals going through dauer or reproductive development (Lee et al., 2017), we have identified genetic markers for conveniently tracking and manipulating the dauer entry decision. These include col-183 (which tracks dauer fate in the hypodermis), ets-10 (neurons and intestine), nhr-246 (intestine and hypodermis), and F53F1.4 (reproductive fate in the hypodermis). Using condition shift experiments, we demonstrate that the dauer-specific fluorescent expression of the markers correspond to the commitment event of the dauer entry decision, and therefore label when the decision is made. We show that these markers can be used to manipulate the entry decision by driving the reproduction-promoting gene daf-9 under the control of the dauer-specific marker col-183, through which we could shift animals into non-dauer development. We further demonstrate that the markers can be used to track tissue coordination during the decision. daf-9, daf-15, and daf-18 partial dauers exhibit incomplete expression of the ets-10 marker, with our results indicating that the same gene (e.g. daf-9 or daf-18) can affect dauer development differently in different tissues. Our findings provide molecular tools for studying phenotypic plasticity during a whole animal decision.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Shih, Pei-Yin0000-0003-3082-9242
Sternberg, Paul W.0000-0002-7699-0173
Additional Information:© 2019 Published by Elsevier Inc. Received 15 January 2019, Revised 14 June 2019, Accepted 14 June 2019, Available online 23 June 2019. We thank Chun-Hao Chen, Sarah Cohen, and Katherine I. Brugman for critically reading the manuscript; C. Bargmann (Rockefeller University) for sharing reagents; the Caenorhabditis Genetics Center, which is funded by the NIH Office of Research Infrastructure Programs (P40 OD010440); WormBase and the Alliance of Genome Resource for datasets and invaluable information. This research was supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute with which PWS was an investigator.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
NIHP40 OD010440
Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI)UNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:Diapause; Phenotypic plasticity; Dauer larvae; Genetic marker
Issue or Number:2
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20190624-141107109
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Official Citation:Pei-Yin Shih, James Siho Lee, Paul W. Sternberg, Genetic markers enable the verification and manipulation of the dauer entry decision, Developmental Biology, Volume 454, Issue 2, 2019, Pages 170-180, ISSN 0012-1606, (
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:96671
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:25 Jun 2019 18:16
Last Modified:16 Nov 2021 17:22

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