Environmental Control of Body Size: the Role of SIK Proteins and Food Signals

Alexander van der Linden, Ph.D. (University of Nevada, Reno)

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Growth, and ultimately the size of an animal is regulated by the nervous system, which integrates genetically hardwired developmental processes together with the plastic process of continuous sensing of an animal’s environmental condition and energy state. When growth or energy states are deregulated in humans, disorders such as cancer or obesity can result. How sensory inputs and integration of environmental information by the nervous system influences growth is poorly understood. C. elegans provides a tractable system for defining the molecular and neural basis of body size. The body size of C. elegans is regulated partly by sensory perception, suggesting that the sensory system regulates body size in response to changing environmental conditions. Our current research is aimed at understanding how the sensory system controls the body size of C. elegans.