The researchers focused on a form of C. elegans called the dauer, which is non-reproductive, long-lived, and resistant to stress. To identify genes particularly active in the dauer, the researchers used a sensitive but difficult technique called "serial analysis of gene expression" (SAGE), which detects activity of even previously unknown genes in an organism. The researchers found a remarkable 2016 genes active exclusively in the dauer form of C. elegans and numerous intriguing differences between the dauer and non-dauer forms. Some of the more striking differences point to chromosome stability and structure as an important factor in dauer biology. The most active gene in dauer, for example, is the newly discovered tts-1, which appears to interact with the tips of chromosomes. These results provide hot new data for scientists studying longevity and showcase SAGE as a tool for studying global gene activity patterns.
Genome Sequence Centre
British Columbia Cancer Research Centre
Vancouver, British Columbia V5Z 4E6