Macrophage migration inhibitory factor (mif) transcription is significantly elevated in Caenorhabditis elegans dauer larvae

Aimee L. Marson, D. Ellen K. Tarr, Alan L. Scott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF) from vertebrate species is a molecule that exerts a wide-range of effects in inflammatory responses, cell activation and cell differentiation. Several species of parasitic nematodes have been shown to express genes encoding orthologues of the mammalian MIF that appear to play a key role in immune evasion by modifying the activity of host cells. In addition, MIF accumulates in nematode somatic cells where its role has not yet been defined. In order to identify the role that MIF plays in the cell biology of nematodes, we have characterized the members of the mif gene family in the free-living species Caenorhabditis elegans. Unlike the single mif gene found in humans and mice, C. elegans expresses four distinct mif genes: Ce-mif-1, Ce-mif-2, Ce-mif-3 and Ce-mif-4. The Ce-MIF proteins are between 15-30% identical to each other, 34-38% identical to the MIFs from the parasitic nematode Brugia malayi, and 22-35% identical to mammalian MIFs. The transcription of Ce-mif-2 and Ce-mif-3, but not Ce-mif-1, was upregulated > 100-fold compared to L2 levels when the worms entered the dauer stage. The transcription levels of Ce-mif-2 and Ce-mif-3 fell to near baseline a few hours after exit from dauer. Ce-MIF/GFP transgenic animals and immunostaining were used to demonstrate that the main sites of MIF production are in the hypodermis, body wall muscles and in the nuclei of developing embryos. The results suggest a role for C. elegans MIF in cellular maintenance during periods of adverse conditions that lead to developmental arrest.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)53-62
Number of pages10
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Oct 31 2001


  • Caenorhabditis elegans
  • Development
  • Embryo
  • Genomic organization
  • Nuclear localization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics


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