Faculty Mentor: Sudhir Nayak
Students: Emily Keppen
Over the course of this project, we studied the life extension of Caenohabditis elegans (C. elegans) in response to the activation of the HIF-1 (Hypoxia Inducible Factor) pathway. The HIF-1 pathway is activated by low oxygen conditions, also known as hypoxia. When activated, HIF-1 upregulates the expression of telomerase. This is an important factor in aging since telomerase maintains telomere length and protects chromosomes from degradation. An increase in HIF-1 activity and telomerase expression is expected to increase chromosome stability and therefore contribute to an increase the lifespan of the worm. To induce hypoxia, wild type control (N2) and hif-1 knockout (HIF-1) strains were treated with cobalt chloride and lifespan measures. Our preliminary suggests that wild type lifespan is extended with cobalt chloride treatment in a hif-1 dependent manner. Although cobalt chloride appears to be increasing lifespan, these results may be a nonspecific effect of the treatment. To determine if the extension of lifespan is actually in response to the HIF-1 pathway and not the cobalt chloride we have initiated a second survival screen using sodium sulfite. In future research we will also plan on using other hypoxia inducing compounds such as deferoxamine to examine their effect on lifespan. By finding treatments to extend worm lifespan, we hope identify the key components of the pathway that govern lifespan in other animals.