Methylation of the Sterol Nucleus by STRM-1 Regulates Dauer Larva Formation in Caenorhabditis elegans

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Abstract

In response to pheromone(s), Caenorhabditis elegans interrupts its reproductive life cycle and enters diapause as a stress-resistant dauer larva. This decision is governed by a complex system of neuronal and hormonal regulation. All the signals converge onto the nuclear hormone receptor DAF-12. A sterol-derived hormone, dafachronic acid (DA), supports reproductive development by binding to DAF-12 and inhibiting its dauer-promoting activity. Here, we identify a methyltransferase, STRM-1, that modulates DA levels and thus dauer formation. By modifying the substrates that are used for the synthesis of DA, STRM-1 can reduce the amount of hormone produced. Loss of STRM-1 function leads to elevated levels of DA and inefficient dauer formation. Sterol methylation was not previously recognized as a mechanism for regulating hormone activity. Moreover, the C-4 sterol nucleus methylation catalyzed by STRM-1 is unique to nematodes and thus could be a target for therapeutic strategies against parasitic nematode infections. © 2009 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Hannich, J. T., Entchev, E. V., Mende, F., Boytchev, H., Martin, R., Zagoriy, V., … Kurzchalia, T. V. (2009). Methylation of the Sterol Nucleus by STRM-1 Regulates Dauer Larva Formation in Caenorhabditis elegans. Developmental Cell, 16(6), 833–843. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.devcel.2009.04.012

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