The study shows that SKN-1B controls behaviors such as foraging, eating, and resting in nematodes.
In nematode worms, a key controller lets the worm recognize when it needs food and when it feels full, and then changes its behavior accordingly. Jennifer Tullet of the University of Kent and colleagues report on these new findings in an article published March 4 in PLOS Genetics. They suggest that a similar factor may control bloating in humans.
Deciding when and how much to eat is critical to maintaining good health and preventing overeating. Our bodies pick up complex molecular signals from our nervous, physiological, and metabolic systems that tell us when to be hungry and when to stop eating, but exactly how these signals work is not yet known exactly. Tullet and her colleagues used the nematode worm C. elegans to study how the worm’s nervous system recognizes its nutritional status and communicates abundance to the rest of the animal.
They identified a new master controller of this system, SKN-1B, which appears to be heavily involved in food detection and behavior related to food. SKN-1B is a transcription factor, which means it can regulate when other genes are switched on or off. The researchers discovered that it works by changing the hormonal signals in the worm and activating the mitochondrial network that provides electricity in every cell. Based on the nutritional needs of the worm, SKN-1B can instruct the animal to switch between behaviors, e.g. For example, looking for food, eating, and napping after eating.
The new study suggests the possibility that a similar transcription factor regulates food perception and feelings of fullness in humans. Instead of SKN-1B, mammals have NF-E2-related transcription factors, or Nrfs, which scientists believe work in metabolism and in the process of converting food nutrients into energy. Nrfs also play a role in the phenomenon that animals live longer when they restrict their calories. If future research confirms Nrfs’ role in signaling abundance, Nrfs could be a new target for developing drugs that control overeating.
The authors add: “We are very excited about this work. Understanding the neuroendocrinology of eating and sleeping is so important to lifelong health and wellbeing. “
Reference: “Neural SKN-1B modulates nutritional pathways and mitochondrial networks to control satiety” by Tataridas-Pallas N., Thompson MA, Howard A., Brown I., Ezcurra M., Wu Z. et al., 4th ed. March 2021, PLoS Genetics.
DOI: 10.1371 / journal.pgen.1009358
Funding: This work was supported by awards from UKRI | Funds Biotechnology and Life Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) at JMAT BB / R003629 / 1; and HHS | National Institutes of Health (NIH) AG054215; GM122610; and DK036836 to TKB. Funders had no role in the design of the study, data collection and analysis, the decision to publish, or the preparation of the manuscript.