A Caenorhabditis elegans Male Pheromone Feminizes Germline Gene Expression in Hermaphrodites and Imposes Life-History Costs

David Angeles-Albores, Erin Z. Aprison, Svetlana Dzitoyeva, Ilya Ruvinsky*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Sex pheromones not only improve the reproductive success of the recipients, but also impose costs, such as a reduced life span. The underlying mechanisms largely remain to be elucidated. Here, we show that even a brief exposure to physiological amounts of the dominant Caenorhabditis elegans male pheromone, ascr#10, alters the expression of thousands of genes in hermaphrodites. The most dramatic effect on the transcriptome is the upregulation of genes expressed during oogenesis and the downregulation of genes associated with male gametogenesis. This result reveals a way in which social signals help to resolve the inherent conflict between spermatogenesis and oogenesis in a simultaneous hermaphrodite, presumably to optimally align reproductive function with the presence of potential mating partners. We also found that exposure to ascr#10 increased the risk of persistent intestinal infections in hermaphrodites due to pathological pharyngeal hypertrophy. Thus, our study reveals ways in which the male pheromone can not only have beneficial effects on the recipients' reproduction, but also cause harmful consequences that reduce life span.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbermsad119
JournalMolecular biology and evolution
Volume40
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2023

Keywords

  • C. elegans
  • germline
  • pheromone
  • senescence
  • trade-off
  • transcriptome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology

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