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Published September 1, 2017 | public
Journal Article Open

The Caenorhabditis elegans Female State: Decoupling the Transcriptomic Effects of Aging and Sperm-Status


Understanding genome and gene function in a whole organism requires us to fully comprehend the life cycle and the physiology of the organism in question. Caenorhabditis elegans XX animals are hermaphrodites that exhaust their sperm after 3 d of egg-laying. Even though C. elegans can live for many days after cessation of egg-laying, the molecular physiology of this state has not been as intensely studied as other parts of the life cycle, despite documented changes in behavior and metabolism. To study the effects of sperm depletion and aging of C. elegans during the first 6 d of adulthood, we measured the transcriptomes of first-day adult hermaphrodites and sixth-day sperm-depleted adults, and, at the same time points, mutant fog-2(lf) worms that have a feminized germline phenotype. We found that we could separate the effects of biological aging from sperm depletion. For a large subset of genes, young adult fog-2(lf) animals had the same gene expression changes as sperm-depleted sixth-day wild-type hermaphrodites, and these genes did not change expression when fog-2(lf) females reached the sixth day of adulthood. Taken together, this indicates that changing sperm status causes a change in the internal state of the worm, which we call the female-like state. Our data provide a high-quality picture of the changes that happen in global gene expression throughout the period of early aging in the worm.

Additional Information

© 2017 Genetics Society of America. Received March 13, 2017; Accepted July 4, 2017; Early online July 27, 2017. We thank the Caenorhabditis Genetics Center for providing worm strains. This work would not be possible without the central repository of C. elegans information generated by WormBase, with out which mining the genetic data would not have been possible. DHWL was supported by a National Institutes of Health US Public Health Service Training Grant (T32GM07616). This research was supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, for which PWS is an investigator. Author Contributions: DA, DHWL and PWS designed all experiments. DHWL and THK collected RNA for library preparation. IA generated libraries and performed sequencing. DA performed all bioinformatics and statistical analyses. DA, TT and DHWL performed all screens. DA, DHWL and PWS wrote the paper.

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Published - 2969.pdf

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Supplemental Material - FileS2.csv

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