Establishing C. elegans as a model to study the function of vitamin A metabolism
Retinoids (vitamin A) are critical for cell development, maintaining a healthy immune system, regulating energy metabolism, and eyesight in mammals. In addition, abnormal levels contribute to obesity and cancer. While vitamin A plays these many roles, what is not well known is the impact of individual vitamin A metabolism genes at the cellular and tissue level. We discovered that the roundworm C. elegans may be an excellent model organism for this investigation because many genes are conserved. The results indicate that we have distinguished potential retinoid metabolism genes in these nematodes, some of which share phenotypes with their mammalian homologs. These genes include cellular retinol-binding proteins, retinol dehydrogenases, retinal dehydrogenase, cellular retinoic acid-binding proteins, and retinoic acid receptors. However, many of these genes in C. elegans and mammals have no known mutant traits. Future research in C. elegans will define the physiological relevance of altered and normal Vitamin A metabolism.
Supported by the S-STEM Scholarship Program (Spring), TWU Department of Biology, and TWU Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences.