Worm Breeder's Gazette 3(2): 33
These abstracts should not be cited in bibliographies. Material contained herein should be treated as personal communication and should be cited as such only with the consent of the author.
In order to maintain an age-synchronized population of worms for aging studies, it is necessary to prevent the population from producing progeny which would destroy the synchrony of the population. 5-fluorour-aci1-2'-deoxyribose (FUdR), an inhibitor of DNA synthesis, was examined for its ability to prevent a synchronized population of C. elegans from reproducing without otherwise interfering with development and aging. In our procedure, a synchronized N2 population (hatching within a 4-hour period) is exposed to 400 M FUdR just as it reaches sexual maturity. Monoxenically grown populations are transferred to NGM agar containing 400 M FUdR plated with pre-grown E. coli that has been allowed to equilibrate on the FUdR agar for a day. FUdR is simply added to worms grown axenically in liquid. FUdR induces complete sterility within five hours by preventing eggs from hatching. Any larvae that hatch from the few eggs produced before the FUdR was added remain small in the presence of FUdR and are easily removed by filtration or sedimentation. FUdR-sterilized worms reach normal maximum length and show no morphological abnormalities. They move and respond in coordinated fashion to chemotactic and mechanical stimuli, though movement is slightly slower than in untreated controls. Age-associated changes seen in controls also occur in FUdR-treated worms, including atrophy of the gonads, increased pigmentation of the gut, sluggishness, and increased transparency. Lifespan was not shortened by FUdR treatment, and may have been slightly lengthened. Exposure to a concentration of FUdR 125 times higher than that used to maintain synchrony is not lethal to adult C. elegans over an extended period (~10 days). The age at which organisms are exposed to FUdR is critical; organisms exposed to the drug before reaching sexual maturity do not mature normally. Our observations suggest that treatment with FUdR under carefully controlled conditions is a reasonable way to maintain synchronously aging populations of C. elegans.