Dopamine and serotonin, two neurotransmitters in the central nervous system, are intimately involved in muscle control, memory, sleep, and emotional behavior. They are also linked to illnesses such as Parkinson’s disease and mood disorders. Now, regulation of longevity may be added to this list.
Three natural variants in the gene for DOPA decarboxylase (DDC), an enzyme required for the production of dopamine and serotonin, together accounted for 15 percent of the genetic contribution to variation in life span among strains of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, according to recent research by geneticists at North Carolina State University.
“This is a surprisingly large effect for a gene affecting a complex trait, such as longevity or body size, which is typically controlled by many genes with relatively small effects,” said Dr. Trudy Mackay, William Neal Reynolds Professor of genetics at NC State and director of the study. Results of the study appear in the paper “Dopa decarboxylase affects variation in Drosophila longevity,” published in the July 27 online edition of Nature Genetics.
Dr. Trudy Mackay | North Carolina State University
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