Gap junctions deliver malonyl-CoA from soma to germline to support embryogenesis in Caenorhabditis elegans

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Todd A. Starich, D. Greenstein


Gap junctions are virtually ubiquitous in metazoans and play critical roles in many important biological processes, including electrical conduction and development. Despite this ubiquity, only a small number of molecules passing through gap junction channels have been definitively linked to specific functions. We isolated gap junction channel mutants that reduce junctional coupling between the soma and germ cells in the C. elegans gonad. We use genetic methods to show that malonyl-CoA, the rate-limiting substrate for fatty acid synthesis (FAS), is produced in the soma and delivered through gap junctions to the germline; there it is used by fatty acid synthase to critically support embryonic development. Tissue separation of malonyl-CoA production from its site of utilization facilitates somatic control of germline development and reproduction. Further, our results suggest that this metabolic outsourcing may be a strategy by which the soma communicates nutritional status to the germline.

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