At least 15 of those genes have very similar versions in humans, suggesting that scientists may be able to target those genes to help slow down the aging process and treat age-related conditions. The study will be published online by the journal Genome Research on March 13.
The two organisms used in this study, the single-celled budding yeast and the roundworm C. elegans, are commonly used models for aging research. Finding genes that are conserved between the two organisms is significant, researchers say, because the two species are so far apart on the evolutionary scale -- even farther apart than the tiny worms and humans. That, combined with the presence of similar human genes, is an indication that these genes could regulate human longevity as well.
"Now that we know what many of these genes actually are, we have potential targets to go after in humans," said Brian Kennedy, UW associate professor of biochemistry and one of the senior authors of the study. "We hope that in the future we could affect those targets and improve not just lifespan, but also the 'health span' or the period of a person's life when they can be healthy and not suffer from age-related illnesses."
Several of the genes that the scientists identified as being involved in aging are also connected to a key nutrient response pathway known as known as the Target of Rapamycin, or TOR. That finding gives more evidence to the theory that calorie intake and nutrient response affect lifespan by altering TOR activity. Previous studies have found that drastically restricting the caloric intake of organisms, an approach known as dietary restriction, can prolong their lifespan and reduce the incidence of age-related diseases. TOR inhibitors are being tested clinically in people for anti-cancer properties, and this work suggests they may also be useful against a variety of age-associated diseases.
"What we'd like to eventually do is be able to mimic the effects of dietary restriction with a drug," explained Matt Kaeberlein, another senior author on the paper and a UW assistant professor of pathology. "Most people don't want to cut their diet that drastically, just so they may live a little longer. But someday in the future, we may be able to accomplish the same thing with a pill."
These findings also give new insight into the genetic basis of aging, the scientists said, and provide some of the first quantitative evidence that genes regulating aging have been conserved during the process of evolution. Earlier evolutionary theories suggested that aging was not genetically controlled, since an organism does not get any advantage in natural selection by having a very long lifespan that goes far past their reproductive age.
To find these lifespan-controlling genes, the scientists took a genomic approach to comprehensively examine genes that affect aging in yeast and worms. Based on published reports, they first identified 276 genes in C. elegans that affected aging, and then searched for similar genetic sequences in the yeast genome. Of the 25 aging-related genes they found in both worms and yeast, only three had been previously thought to be conserved across many organisms.
Justin Reedy | EurekAlert!
Cryo-electron microscopy achieves unprecedented resolution using new computational methods
24.03.2017 | DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
How cheetahs stay fit and healthy
24.03.2017 | Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V.
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy