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Caenorhabditis elegansas a Valuable Model for Studying Apoptosis and Autophagy in Cancer Development: Current Insights, Future Directions, and Challenges

Ashkan Hajjafari1, Pouria Ahmadi Simab2, Soheil Sadr3,*,Narges Lotfalizadeh3,and Hassan Borji4

1Department of Pathobiology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Islamic Azad University, Science and Research Branch, Tehran, Iran

2Department of Clinical Sciences, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Sanandaj Branch, Islamic Azad University, Sanandaj, Iran

3Department of Clinical Sciences, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Mashhad, Iran

4Department of Pathobiology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Mashhad, Iran


Despite significant progress in the fight against cancer, it remains a significant public health concern and a societal burden worldwide. To develop better intervention strategies to counter or prevent tumor development, understandingthe molecularand cellular mechanisms underlying oncogenic diseases is crucial. Invivoand invitromodels have traditionally been utilized to understand the biological processes involved in cancer, including apoptosis, proliferation, angiogenesis, invasion, metastasis, genome instability, and metabolism. The present review exploredhow Caenorhabditis elegans(C. elegans)can aid in understandingcancer’s cellular and molecular bases, concentrating on mechanisms like apoptosis and autophagy. In recent years, C.eleganshas emerged as a promising model organism for studying the molecular basis of tumorigenesis. This model organism is attractive because it is genetically tractable and has a simple and well-understood anatomy. Caenorhabditiselegansexhibits conserved cellular pathways and mechanisms relevant to human diseases, including cancer. Studies using C. eleganshave provided valuable insights into the regulation of apoptosis and autophagy in cancer and have identified novel regulators of these pathways. Furthermore, C. eleganshas been used to study the roles of tumor suppressor genes and oncogenes in tumorigenesis. In conclusion, C. elegansis an emerging animal model that has the potential to facilitate the development of better intervention strategies to prevent or counter tumor development and to advance our understanding of cancer progression with further research.

1. Introduction:

Caenorhabditis elegans(C. elegans) is a soil nematode that has become an important model organism in biomedical research due to its numerous advantages1. Its ability to feed on various bacteria and to be raised easily in the laboratory using Escherichia colibacteria makes it a cost-effective and convenient organism for large-scale studies2. Its short generation time and lifespan make it an efficient model for aging and longitudinal studies of development and disease progression3. Caenorhabditiselegansis also unique in its anatomy and genetics. It exists mainly as a hermaphrodite, but males occasionally arise at a frequency of 0.1%4. It has an invariant number of somatic cells in its “female” and male mature adults, with an invariant cell lineage and precise anatomical arrangements. Its transparent body at all stages of its life cycle and small size make it ideal for non-invasive optical methodologies that enable manipulation and tracking of normal function and dysfunction at the cellular level during development and aging5. Despite the evolutionary distance between C.

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