It's All in Your Mind: Determining Germ Cell Fate by Neuronal IRE-1 in C. elegans

Mor Levi-Ferber, Yehuda Salzberg, Modi Safra, Anat Haviv-Chesner, Hannes E. Bülow, Sivan Henis-Korenblit

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


The C. elegans germline is pluripotent and mitotic, similar to self-renewing mammalian tissues. Apoptosis is triggered as part of the normal oogenesis program, and is increased in response to various stresses. Here, we examined the effect of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress on apoptosis in the C. elegans germline. We demonstrate that pharmacological or genetic induction of ER stress enhances germline apoptosis. This process is mediated by the ER stress response sensor IRE-1, but is independent of its canonical downstream target XBP-1. We further demonstrate that ire-1-dependent apoptosis in the germline requires both CEP-1/p53 and the same canonical apoptotic genes as DNA damage-induced germline apoptosis. Strikingly, we find that activation of ire-1, specifically in the ASI neurons, but not in germ cells, is sufficient to induce apoptosis in the germline. This implies that ER stress related germline apoptosis can be determined at the organism level, and is a result of active IRE-1 signaling in neurons. Altogether, our findings uncover ire-1 as a novel cell non-autonomous regulator of germ cell apoptosis, linking ER homeostasis in sensory neurons and germ cell fate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPLoS genetics
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)
  • Cancer Research


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