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Nature 1999 May 13;399(6732):162-6
Department of Biological Sciences, Columbia University, New York, New York 10027, USA.
The dauer larva is an alternative larval stage in Caenorhabditis elegans which allows animals to survive through periods of low food availability. Well-fed worms live for about three weeks, but dauer larvae can live for at least two months without affecting post-dauer lifespan. Mutations in daf-2 and age-1, which produce a dauer constitutive (Daf-C) phenotype, and in clk-1, which are believed to slow metabolism, markedly increase adult lifespan. Here we show that a ctl-1 mutation reduces adult lifespan in otherwise wild-type animals and eliminates the daf-c and clk-1-mediated extension of adult lifespan. ctl-1 encodes an unusual cytosolic catalase; a second gene, ctl-2, encodes a peroxisomal catalase. ctl-1 messenger RNA is increased in dauer larvae and adults with the daf-c mutations. We suggest that the ctl-1 catalase is needed during periods of starvation, as in the dauer larva, and that its misexpression in daf-c and clk-1 adults extends lifespan. Cytosolic catalase may have evolved to protect nematodes from oxidative damage produced during prolonged dormancy before reproductive maturity, or it may represent a general mechanism for permitting organisms to cope with the metabolic changes that accompany starvation.