1. Genetics and Genomics
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Insulin-like peptides and the mTOR-TFEB pathway protect C. elegans hermaphrodites from Mating-induced Death

  1. Cheng Shi
  2. Lauren N Booth
  3. Coleen T Murphy  Is a corresponding author
  1. Princeton University, United States
  2. Stanford University, United States
Research Article
  • Cited 8
  • Views 1,769
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Cite this article as: eLife 2019;8:e46413 doi: 10.7554/eLife.46413


C. elegans lifespan is shortened by mating, but these deleterious effects must be delayed long enough for successful reproduction. Susceptibility to brief mating-induced death is caused by the loss of protection upon self-sperm depletion. Self-sperm maintains the expression of a DAF-2 insulin-like antagonist, INS-37, which promotes the nuclear localization of intestinal HLH-30/TFEB, a key pro-longevity regulator. Mating induces the agonist INS-8, promoting HLH-30 nuclear exit and subsequent death. In opposition to the protective role of HLH-30 and DAF-16/FOXO, TOR/LET-363 and the IIS-regulated Zn-finger transcription factor PQM-1 promote seminal-fluid-induced killing. Self-sperm maintenance of nuclear HLH-30/TFEB allows hermaphrodites to resist mating-induced death until self-sperm are exhausted, increasing the chances that mothers will survive through reproduction. Mothers combat males' hijacking of their IIS pathway by expressing an insulin antagonist that keeps her healthy through the activity of pro-longevity factors, as long as she has her own sperm to utilize.

Data availability

Microarray data are available at the following links:"L4 fog-2(q71) vs N2 hermaphrodites"https://puma.princeton.edu/cgi-bin/exptsets/review.pl?exptset_no=7332"L4 fem-3(q20) vs N2 hermaphrodites"https://puma.princeton.edu/cgi-bin/exptsets/review.pl?exptset_no=7333"D3 mated fog-2(q71) vs pqm-1(ok485) hermaphrodites"https://puma.princeton.edu/cgi-bin/exptsets/review.pl?exptset_no=7334

Article and author information

Author details

  1. Cheng Shi

    Department of Molecular Biology, Princeton University, Princeton, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0003-0365-8273
  2. Lauren N Booth

    Department of Genetics, Stanford University, Stanford, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  3. Coleen T Murphy

    Department of Molecular Biology, Princeton University, Princeton, United States
    For correspondence
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-8257-984X


NIH Office of the Director (Pioneer 1DP1OD020400-01)

  • Coleen T Murphy

Glenn Foundation for Medical Research (NA)

  • Coleen T Murphy

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.

Reviewing Editor

  1. Matt Kaeberlein, University of Washington, United States

Publication history

  1. Received: February 27, 2019
  2. Accepted: July 7, 2019
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: July 8, 2019 (version 1)
  4. Version of Record published: August 16, 2019 (version 2)


© 2019, Shi et al.

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.


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Further reading

    1. Evolutionary Biology
    2. Genetics and Genomics
    George L Sutphin

    Young Caenorhabditis elegans hermaphrodites use their own sperm to protect against the negative consequences of mating.

    1. Genetics and Genomics
    Alaattin Kaya et al.
    Research Article Updated

    To understand the genetic basis and selective forces acting on longevity, it is useful to examine lifespan variation among closely related species, or ecologically diverse isolates of the same species, within a controlled environment. In particular, this approach may lead to understanding mechanisms underlying natural variation in lifespan. Here, we analyzed 76 ecologically diverse wild yeast isolates and discovered a wide diversity of replicative lifespan (RLS). Phylogenetic analyses pointed to genes and environmental factors that strongly interact to modulate the observed aging patterns. We then identified genetic networks causally associated with natural variation in RLS across wild yeast isolates, as well as genes, metabolites, and pathways, many of which have never been associated with yeast lifespan in laboratory settings. In addition, a combined analysis of lifespan-associated metabolic and transcriptomic changes revealed unique adaptations to interconnected amino acid biosynthesis, glutamate metabolism, and mitochondrial function in long-lived strains. Overall, our multiomic and lifespan analyses across diverse isolates of the same species shows how gene–environment interactions shape cellular processes involved in phenotypic variation such as lifespan.