Open Access Open Badges Research article

Disruption of insulin signalling preserves bioenergetic competence of mitochondria in ageing Caenorhabditis elegans

Kristel Brys, Natascha Castelein, Filip Matthijssens, Jacques R Vanfleteren and Bart P Braeckman*

Author Affiliations

Department of Biology, Ghent University, K L Ledeganckstraat 35, Ghent B-9000, Belgium

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BMC Biology 2010, 8:91  doi:10.1186/1741-7007-8-91

Published: 28 June 2010



The gene daf-2 encodes the single insulin/insulin growth factor-1-like receptor of Caenorhabditis elegans. The reduction-of-function allele e1370 induces several metabolic alterations and doubles lifespan.


We found that the e1370 mutation alters aerobic energy production substantially. In wild-type worms the abundance of key mitochondrial proteins declines with age, accompanied by a dramatic decrease in energy production, although the mitochondrial mass, inferred from the mitochondrial DNA copy number, remains unaltered. In contrast, the age-dependent decrease of both key mitochondrial proteins and bioenergetic competence is considerably attenuated in daf-2(e1370) adult animals. The increase in daf-2(e1370) mitochondrial competence is associated with a higher membrane potential and increased reactive oxygen species production, but with little damage to mitochondrial protein or DNA. Together these results point to a higher energetic efficiency of daf-2(e1370) animals.


We conclude that low daf-2 function alters the overall rate of ageing by a yet unidentified mechanism with an indirect protective effect on mitochondrial function.