miRNAs (microRNAs) were first discovered as critical regulators of developmental timing events in Caenorhabditis elegans. Subsequent studies have shown that miRNAs and cellular factors necessary for miRNA biogenesis are conserved in many organisms, suggesting the importance of miRNAs during developmental processes. Indeed, mutations in the miRNA-processing pathway induce pleiotropic defects in development, which accompany perturbation of correct expression of target genes. However, control of gene expression in development is not the only function of miRNAs. Recent work has provided new insights into the role of miRNAs in various biological events, including aging and cancer. C. elegans continues to be helpful in facilitating a further understanding of miRNA function in human diseases.
microRNA (miRNA) is a family of small, non-coding RNA first discovered as an important regulator of development in Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans). Numerous miRNAs have been found in C. elegans, and some of them are well conserved in many organisms. Though, the biologic function of miRNAs in C. elegans was largely unknown, more and more studies support the idea that miRNA is an important molecular for C. elegans. In this review, we revisit the research progress of miRNAs in C. elegans related with development, aging, cancer, and neurodegenerative diseases and compared the function of miRNAs between C. elegans and human.
The genome of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans was the first animal genome sequenced. Subsequent sequencing of the Caenorhabditis briggsae genome enabled a comparison of the genomes of two nematode species. In this chapter, we describe the methods that we used to compare the C. elegans genome to that of C. briggsae. We discuss how these methods could be developed to compare the C. elegans and C. briggsae genomes to those of Caenorhabditis remanei, C. n. sp. represented by strains PB2801 and CB5161, among others (1), and Caenorhabditis japonica, which are currently being sequenced.
We review recent studies that have advanced our understanding of the molecular mechanisms regulating transcription in the nematode C. elegans. Topics covered include: (i) general properties of C. elegans promoters; (ii) transcription factors and transcription factor combinations involved in cell fate specification and cell differentiation; (iii) new roles for general transcription factors; (iv) nucleosome positioning in C. elegans "chromatin"; and (v) some characteristics of histone variants and histone modifications and their possible roles in controlling C. elegans transcription.
How axons repair themselves after injury is a fundamental question in neurobiology. With its conserved genome, relatively simple nervous system, and transparent body, C. elegans has recently emerged as a productive model to uncover the cellular mechanisms that regulate and execute axon regeneration. In this review, we discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the C. elegans model of regeneration. We explore the technical advances that enable the use of C. elegans for in vivo regeneration studies, review findings in C. elegans that have contributed to our understanding of the regeneration response across species, discuss the potential of C. elegans research to provide insight into mechanisms that function in the injured mammalian nervous system, and present potential future directions of axon regeneration research using C. elegans.
C. elegans has emerged as a powerful genetic model organism in which to study synaptic function. Most synaptic proteins in the C. elegans genome are highly conserved and mutants can be readily generated by forward and reverse genetics. Most C. elegans synaptic protein mutants are viable affording an opportunity to study the functional consequences in vivo. Recent advances in electrophysiological approaches permit functional analysis of mutant synapses in situ. This has contributed to an already powerful arsenal of techniques available to study synaptic function in C. elegans. This review highlights C. elegans mutants affecting specific stages of the synaptic vesicle cycle, with emphasis on studies conducted at the neuromuscular junction.
C. elegans presents a low level of molecular diversity, which may be explained by its selfing mode of reproduction. Recent work on the genetic structure of natural populations of C. elegans indeed suggests a low level of outcrossing, and little geographic differentiation because of migration. The level and pattern of molecular diversity among wild isolates of C. elegans are compared with those found after accumulation of spontaneous mutations in the laboratory. The last part of the chapter reviews phenotypic differences among wild isolates of C. elegans.
C. elegans provides a genetically tractable system for deciphering the homeostatic mechanisms that underlie fat regulation in intact organisms. Here, we provide an overview of the recent advances in the C. elegans fat field with particular attention to studies of C. elegans lipid droplets, the complex links between lipases, autophagy, and lifespan, and analyses of key transcriptional regulatory mechanisms that coordinate lipid homeostasis. These studies demonstrate the ancient origins of mammalian and C. elegans fat regulatory pathways and highlight how C. elegans is being used to identify and analyze novel lipid pathways that are then shown to function similarly in mammals. Despite its many advantages, study of fat regulation in C. elegans is currently faced with a number of conceptual and methodological challenges. We critically evaluate some of the assumptions in the field and highlight issues that we believe should be taken into consideration when interpreting lipid content data in C. elegans.
Most programmed cell deaths in the nematode C. elegans require ced-3 caspase activity. In a recent paper, Bloss et al. (2003) reveal a new C. elegans death inhibitor, icd-1, whose loss can promote apoptosis independently of ced-3.