April 23, 2013

I’m thankful that my body knows how to handle days when I feed it wonderful things, like a banana and a giant bowl of strawberries, then follow it up with a few gut-busting mini-doughnuts.  Although worms and other organisms don’t have access to doughnuts like I do, their bodies still have protections in place to handle changes in their diet.  Today’s image is from a paper describing how the germline is protected from a changing diet.

Organisms consume a variety of food options, yet their bodies know how to regulate these changes to maintain homeostasis, all the way down to the cellular level.  A recent paper shows how an organism’s germline stem cells (GSCs), the source of eggs and/or sperm, are protected from food intake.  Gracida and Eckmann found that the nuclear receptor NHR-114 protects GSCs from dietary perturbations in worms, possibly through a detoxifying response to certain food intake.  Without NHR-114, worms on certain bacterial diets become sterile due to germ cell division defects during development.  The dietary sensitivity is based on intake of the amino acid tryptophan.  In the images above, gonads of worms fed a certain bacterial diet are stained to see individual germ cells (cell cortex staining in green in merged; DNA is purple).  Compared to wild-type worms (left), worms depleted of NHR-114 (right) have germ cell defects, notably cells with multiple nuclei (arrowhead).

ResearchBlogging.orgGracida, X., & Eckmann, C. (2013). Fertility and Germline Stem Cell Maintenance under Different Diets Requires nhr-114/HNF4 in C. elegans Current Biology, 23 (7), 607-613 DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2013.02.034 
Copyright ©2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. 

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