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1.  A metabolic signature of long life in Caenorhabditis elegans 
BMC Biology  2010;8:14.
Background
Many Caenorhabditis elegans mutations increase longevity and much evidence suggests that they do so at least partly via changes in metabolism. However, up until now there has been no systematic investigation of how the metabolic networks of long-lived mutants differ from those of normal worms. Metabolomic technologies, that permit the analysis of many untargeted metabolites in parallel, now make this possible. Here we use one of these, 1H nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, to investigate what makes long-lived worms metabolically distinctive.
Results
We examined three classes of long-lived worms: dauer larvae, adult Insulin/IGF-1 signalling (IIS)-defective mutants, and a translation-defective mutant. Surprisingly, these ostensibly different long-lived worms share a common metabolic signature, dominated by shifts in carbohydrate and amino acid metabolism. In addition the dauer larvae, uniquely, had elevated levels of modified amino acids (hydroxyproline and phosphoserine). We interrogated existing gene expression data in order to integrate functional (metabolite-level) changes with transcriptional changes at a pathway level.
Conclusions
The observed metabolic responses could be explained to a large degree by upregulation of gluconeogenesis and the glyoxylate shunt as well as changes in amino acid catabolism. These responses point to new possible mechanisms of longevity assurance in worms. The metabolic changes observed in dauer larvae can be explained by the existence of high levels of autophagy leading to recycling of cellular components.
See associated minireview: http://jbiol.com/content/9/1/7
doi:10.1186/1741-7007-8-14
PMCID: PMC2829508  PMID: 20146810
2.  'Systems toxicology' approach identifies coordinated metabolic responses to copper in a terrestrial non-model invertebrate, the earthworm Lumbricus rubellus 
BMC Biology  2008;6:25.
Background
New methods are needed for research into non-model organisms, to monitor the effects of toxic disruption at both the molecular and functional organism level. We exposed earthworms (Lumbricus rubellus Hoffmeister) to sub-lethal levels of copper (10–480 mg/kg soil) for 70 days as a real-world situation, and monitored both molecular (cDNA transcript microarrays and nuclear magnetic resonance-based metabolic profiling: metabolomics) and ecological/functional endpoints (reproduction rate and weight change, which have direct relevance to population-level impacts).
Results
Both of the molecular endpoints, metabolomics and transcriptomics, were highly sensitive, with clear copper-induced differences even at levels below those that caused a reduction in reproductive parameters. The microarray and metabolomic data provided evidence that the copper exposure led to a disruption of energy metabolism: transcripts of enzymes from oxidative phosphorylation were significantly over-represented, and increases in transcripts of carbohydrate metabolising enzymes (maltase-glucoamylase, mannosidase) had corresponding decreases in small-molecule metabolites (glucose, mannose). Treating both enzymes and metabolites as functional cohorts led to clear inferences about changes in energetic metabolism (carbohydrate use and oxidative phosphorylation), which would not have been possible by taking a 'biomarker' approach to data analysis.
Conclusion
Multiple post-genomic techniques can be combined to provide mechanistic information about the toxic effects of chemical contaminants, even for non-model organisms with few additional mechanistic toxicological data. With 70-day no-observed-effect and lowest-observed-effect concentrations (NOEC and LOEC) of 10 and 40 mg kg-1 for metabolomic and microarray profiles, copper is shown to interfere with energy metabolism in an important soil organism at an ecologically and functionally relevant level.
doi:10.1186/1741-7007-6-25
PMCID: PMC2424032  PMID: 18522721

Results 1-2 (2)