The nematode C. elegans turns into a protective sleep-like state while experiencing environmental stress or a short period of swimming. Team of Cheryl Van Buskirk from California State University reveal one specific cellular pathway that induces this protecting mechanism.
When C. elegans runs into a circumstance that creates cellular stress such such as pernicious temperature, hypertonicity, and tissue damage, the ALA neuron receives signals from over-expressing epidermal growth factor (EGF) and starts releasing quiescence-promoting peptides, leading to the quiescent behavior of C. elegans.
To testify this hypothesis, ceh-17 mutated C. elegans lacking the paired homeodomain transcription factor CEH-17, required for ALA neuron identity, was used as a contrast against wild type C. elegans. This mutant failed to show quiescent behavior after experiencing heat shock, leading to death, while the wild type survived.
Hill, A. J., Mansfield, R., Lopez, J. M. N. G., Raizen, D. M. & Buskirk, C. Van. Cellular stress induces a protective sleep-like state in C. elegans. Curr. Biol. 1–7 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2014.08.040 (2014).