Many transcription factors contribute to C. elegans growth and fat storage

UMMS Affiliation

Program in Systems Biology; Program in Molecular Medicine

Publication Date


Document Type



Cell and Developmental Biology | Cellular and Molecular Physiology | Genetics and Genomics | Molecular Biology | Systems Biology


Reverse genetic screens by RNA interference (RNAi) in model organisms such as the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans have provided numerous insights into gene function, thereby connecting genotype to phenotype. However, genes that contribute only subtly are often missed because relatively large numbers of measurements and reliable quantification are required to overcome experimental and biological noise that may mask subtle phenotypic effects. Here, we address this challenge by focusing on two phenotypes in C. elegans: growth and fat storage. We carried out comprehensive RNAi knockdown of transcription factors (TFs), as these are known important regulators of biological processes during development and the maintenance of homeostasis. Microscopy images of TF knockdown animals stained with Oil Red O (ORO) were captured, and body size (proxy for growth) and ORO staining intensity (proxy for fat storage) were precisely quantified using a newly developed imaging tool we named IPPOME (Image Processing for Precise and Objective MEasurement). We found that a surprisingly large proportion of TFs contribute to growth and fat storage, but that most TFs have only subtle, yet significant effects. This study provides a blueprint for studies of other genes and phenotypes in C. elegans.

DOI of Published Version



Genes Cells. 2017 Sep;22(9):770-784. doi: 10.1111/gtc.12516. Epub 2017 Aug 8. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Genes to cells : devoted to molecular and cellular mechanisms

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID