• Open Access

A dual role of the Wnt signaling pathway during aging in Caenorhabditis elegans

Authors

  • Marco Lezzerini,

    1. Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
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  • Yelena Budovskaya

    Corresponding author
    1. Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
    • Correspondence

      Yelena Budovskaya, Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences, University of Amsterdam, Science Park 904, Amsterdam 1098 XH, The Netherlands. Tel.: +31 205255078; fax: +31 205257934; e-mail: y.budovskaya@uva.nl

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Summary

Wnt signaling is a major and highly conserved developmental pathway that guides many important events during embryonic and larval development. In adulthood, misregulation of Wnt signaling has been implicated in tumorigenesis and various age-related diseases. These effects occur through highly complicated cell-to-cell interactions mediated by multiple Wnt-secreted proteins. While they share a high degree of sequence similarity, their function is highly diversified. Although the role of Wnt ligands during development is well studied, very little is known about the possible actions of Wnt signaling in natural aging. In this study, Caenorhabditis elegans serves, for the first time, as a model system to determine the role of Wnt ligands in aging. Caenorhabditis elegans has five Wnt proteins, mom-2, egl-20, lin-44, cwn-1, and cwn-2. We show that all five Wnt ligands are expressed and active past the development stages. The ligand mom-2/Wnt plays a major detrimental role in longevity, whereas the function of lin-44/Wnt is beneficial for long life. Interestingly, no evidence was found for Wnt signaling being involved in cellular or oxidative stress responses during aging. Our results suggest that Wnt signaling regulates aging-intrinsic genetic pathways, opening a new research direction on the role of Wnt signaling in aging and age-related diseases.

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