Parasitic hookworms and the free-living model nematode Caenorhabtidis elegans share a developmental arrested stage, called the dauer stage in C. elegans and the infective third-stage larva (L3) in hookworms. One of the key transcription factors that regulate entrance to and exit from developmental arrest is the forkhead transcription factor DAF-16/FoxO. During the dauer stage, DAF-16 is activated and localized in the nucleus. DAF-16 is negatively regulated by phosphorylation by the upstream kinase AKT, which causes DAF-16 to localize out of the nucleus and the worm to exit from dauer. DAF-16 is conserved in hookworms, and hypothesized to control recovery from L3 arrest during infection. Lacking reverse genetic techniques for use in hookworms, we used C. elegans complementation assays to investigate the function of Ancylostoma caninum DAF-16 during entrance and exit from L3 developmental arrest. We performed dauer switching assays and observed the restoration of the dauer phenotype when Ac-DAF-16 was expressed in temperature-sensitive dauer defective C. elegans daf-2(e1370);daf-16(mu86) mutants. AKT phosphorylation site mutants of Ac-DAF-16 were also able to restore the dauer phenotype, but surprisingly allowed dauer exit when temperatures were lowered. We used fluorescence microscopy to localize DAF-16 during dauer and exit from dauer in C. elegans DAF-16 mutant worms expressing Ac-DAF-16, and found that Ac-DAF-16 exited the nucleus during dauer exit. Surprisingly, Ac-DAF-16 with mutated AKT phosphorylation sites also exited the nucleus during dauer exit. Our results suggest that another mechanism may be involved in the regulation DAF-16 nuclear localization during recovery from developmental arrest.
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