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Open Access Research article

Dietary regulation of hypodermal polyploidization in C. elegans

Luke S Tain12*, Encarnación Lozano23, Alberto G Sáez23 and Armand M Leroi2*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, S10 2TN, UK

2 Department of Biological Sciences, Silwood Park Campus, Imperial College London, Ascot, Berkshire SL5 7PY, U.K

3 Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales (CSIC), Dept. Biodiversidad y Biología Evolutiva, C/José Gutiérrez Abascal 2, 28006 Madrid, Spain

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BMC Developmental Biology 2008, 8:28  doi:10.1186/1471-213X-8-28

Published: 12 March 2008



Dietary restriction (DR) results in increased longevity, reduced fecundity and reduced growth in many organisms. Though many studies have examined the effects of DR on longevity and fecundity, few have investigated the effects on growth.


Here we use Caenorhabditis elegans to determine the mechanisms that regulate growth under DR. We show that rather than a reduction in cell number, decreased growth in wild type C. elegans under DR is correlated with lower levels of hypodermal polyploidization. We also show that mutants lacking wild type sensory ciliated neurons are small, exhibit hypo-polyploidization and more importantly, when grown under DR, reduce their levels of endoreduplication to a lesser extent than wild type, suggesting that these neurons are required for the regulation of hypodermal polyploidization in response to DR. Similarly, we also show that the cGMP-dependent protein kinase EGL-4 and the SMA/MAB signalling pathway regulate polyploidization under DR.


We show C. elegans is capable of actively responding to food levels to regulate adult ploidy. We suggest this response is dependent on the SMA/MAB signalling pathway.