Metabolic Plasticity Sustains the Robustness of Caenorhabditis Elegans Embryogenesis

Siyu Chen, Xing Su, Jinglin Zhu, Long Xiao, Yulin Cong, Leilei Yang, Zhuo Du, Xun Huang

EMBO Reports


Embryogenesis is highly dependent on maternally loaded materials, particularly those used for energy production. Different environmental conditions and genetic backgrounds shape embryogenesis. The robustness of embryogenesis in response to extrinsic and intrinsic changes remains incompletely understood. By analyzing the levels of two major nutrients, glycogen and neutral lipids, we discovered stage-dependent usage of these two nutrients along with mitochondrial morphology changes during Caenorhabditis elegans embryogenesis. ATGL, the rate-limiting lipase in cellular lipolysis, is expressed and required in the hypodermis to regulate mitochondrial function and support embryogenesis. The embryonic lethality of atgl-1 mutants can be suppressed by reducing sinh-1/age-1-akt signaling, likely through modulating glucose metabolism to maintain sustainable glucose consumption. The embryonic lethality of atgl-1(xd314) is also affected by parental nutrition. Parental glucose and oleic acid supplements promote glycogen storage in atgl-1(xd314) embryos to compensate for the impaired lipolysis. The rescue by parental vitamin B12 supplement is likely through enhancing mitochondrial function in atgl-1 mutants. These findings reveal that metabolic plasticity contributes to the robustness of C. elegans embryogenesis.