Bodhicharla R, Devkota R, Ruiz M, Pilon M
Genetics 210 (1) 189-201 [2018-09-00; online 2018-07-11]
Maintenance of membrane properties is an essential aspect of cellular homeostasis of which the regulatory mechanisms remain mostly uncharacterized. In Caenorhabditis elegans, the PAQR-2 and IGLR-2 proteins act together as a plasma membrane sensor that responds to decreased fluidity by promoting fatty acid desaturation, hence restoring membrane fluidity. Here, we used mosaic analysis for paqr-2 and iglr-2, and tissue-specific paqr-2 expression, to show that membrane homeostasis is achieved cell nonautonomously. Specifically, we found that expression of paqr-2 in the hypodermis, gonad sheath cells, or intestine is sufficient to suppress systemic paqr-2 mutant phenotypes, including tail tip morphology, membrane fluidity in intestinal cells, cold and glucose intolerance, vitellogenin transport to the germline, germ cell development, and brood size. Finally, we show that the cell nonautonomous regulation of membrane homeostasis is conserved in human cells: HEK293 cells that express AdipoR2, a homolog of paqr-2, are able to normalize membrane fluidity in distant cells where AdipoR2 has been silenced. Finally, using C. elegans mutants and small interfering RNA against Δ9 stearoyl-CoA desaturase in HEK293 cells, we show that Δ9 desaturases are essential for the cell nonautonomous maintenance of membrane fluidity. We conclude that cells are able to share membrane components even when they are not in direct contact with each other, and that this contributes to the maintenance of membrane homeostasis in C. elegans and human cells.