Mitochondrial autophagy has been identified as mediator of lifespan extension upon mitochondrial stress in the roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans by the research team of Natascia Ventura, MD, PhD, and leader of the liaison group between the IUF - Leibniz Research Institute for Environmental Medicine and the Central Institute of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine of the Heinrich Heine University, Duesseldorf, Germany.
The roundworm C. elegans is widely used in aging research for several reasons: It is a multicellular organism with a short life cycle and mean lifespan of 15-20 days. Its genome is completely sequenced and more than 60 percent of its genes have the same structure and function of human genes.
The worm has a small size of about 1 mm, it is transparent, and it has very well characterized phenotypes (appearance) and behaviors. Remarkably, several age-associated features are conserved between C. elegans and humans: progressive degeneration of different tissues, decline in physiological functions and resistance to stress, and increased probability of death with age.
These evolutionarily conserved animal features can be analyzed under the microscope to study the effects of genetic or environmental interventions on the aging process, with important implication for human health.
Mitochondria are widely known as powerhouse organelles of the cell. They fulfill several crucial functions thus being of fundamental importance for proper homeostasis of cells and tissues. In the past decade partial depletion of several mitochondrial regulatory proteins from yeast to mammals has been associated with an anti-aging effect.
This is surprising, as these proteins are vital and severe depletion can lead to diseases in human. One of these proteins is frataxin. In humans, an inherited severe deficiency of frataxin leads to a rare life-threatening neurodegenerative disorder, the so-called “Friedreich’s ataxia”. Complete deficiency of the analogous protein in C. elegans leads to developmental arrest whereas partial depletion actually prolongs animal lifespan. The underlying mechanisms of this anti-aging effect are largely unknown.
New insights have now been published in the world-wide recognized journal “Current Biology” by the team of Natascia Ventura, MD, PhD and leader of the liaison group between the IUF - Leibniz Research Institute for Environmental Medicine and the Central Institute of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine of the Heinrich Heine University, Duesseldorf, Germany, in close collaborations with other experts in the field.
They could show for the first time that mitophagy, the specific degradation of dysfunctional mitochondria through autophagy (a fundamental cellular recycling process), is causally involved in the lifespan extension upon mitochondrial stress in C. elegans.
“The more we know about molecular mechanisms activated by the cells to cope with mitochondrial dysfunction - a common cause of aging and of several devastating disorders - the better they can be exploited for the development of novel therapeutic strategies in the treatment of human mitochondrial-associated (e.g. Friedreich’s ataxia, Parkinson’s disease) and age-related disorders (e.g. Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, cardiovascular disorders). We can thus ultimately provide hope for extension of healthy aging”, states Natascia Ventura.
The authors specifically show that upon partial frataxin depletion cells react by activating mitophagy via a mechanism resembling that of iron deprivation. Reducing iron levels may therefore represent a new strategy to possibly deal with mitochondrial dysfunction and ultimately promote healthy aging.
Alfonso Schiavi, Silvia Maglioni, Konstantinos Palikaras, Anjumara Shaik, Flavie Strapazzon, Vanessa Brinkmann, Alessandro Torgovnick, Natascha Castelein, Sasha De Henau, Bart P. Braeckman, Francesco Cecconi, Nektarios Tavernarakis and Natascia Ventura: Iron-Starvation-Induced Mitophagy Mediates Lifespan Extension upon Mitochondrial Stress in C. elegans. Current Biology, published online July 02, 2015.
About the IUF
The IUF – Leibniz Research Institute for Environmental Medicine investigates the molecular mechanisms through which particles, radiation and environmental chemicals harm human health. The main working areas are environmentally induced aging of the cardiovascular system and the skin as well as disturbances of the nervous and immune system. Through development of novel model systems the IUF contributes to the improvement of risk assessment and the development of novel strategies for the prevention / therapy of environmentally induced health damage.
The research focus of Dr Ventura’s team on mitochondrial adaptive responses to environmental factors in aging and diseases, with a specific focus on prevention, nicely integrates and strongly supports the IUF research mission.
More information: http://www.iuf-duesseldorf.de.
The IUF is part of the Leibniz Association: http://www.leibniz-gemeinschaft.de.
Natascia Ventura, MD, PhD
Lab: +49 (0)211 3389 237
Office: +49 (0)211 3389 203
Christiane Klasen | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
For a chimpanzee, one good turn deserves another
27.06.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Mathematik in den Naturwissenschaften (MPIMIS)
New method to rapidly map the 'social networks' of proteins
27.06.2017 | Salk Institute
An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.
Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...
Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.
Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...
Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.
As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...
Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.
With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...
Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine
Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...
19.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
27.06.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
27.06.2017 | Information Technology
27.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy