Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Gene Critical for Neurotransmitter Synthesis Also Affects Longevity

31.07.2003


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.


The fruit fly is a handy model organism for studying the genetics of longevity and other complex traits in animals. “We can make designer genotypes in fruit flies and test the effects of mutations,” said Mackay.

The three variants interacted in a complex way to affect variation in longevity. Some variants in the DDC gene increased life span of the fruit flies and others decreased it. Interestingly, some variants that were associated with increased life span were not present in the population as frequently as expected, while others associated with decreased life span were more common than expected. Natural selection processes do not simply favor longevity; instead, they promote variability in life span.

The research was a collaboration among scientists at NC State University and the Institute of Molecular Genetics of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow. It was funded in part by grants from the National Institutes of Health, the Russian Fund of Basic Research, and the Russian Academy of Science.

“Our results have real implications for humans,” said Mackay. “The DDC gene is a strong candidate for regulation of longevity in humans. The various genome projects active today have revealed an astounding similarity in the genetic makeup of organisms as disparate as yeast, Drosophila, and humans. For instance, over two-thirds of the known human disease genes have corresponding genes in Drosophila, and genes affecting key biological processes seem to be conserved across all animals.”

Mackay and her team of geneticists have been working to identify genes affecting life span in Drosophila in order to discover the genetic basis of complex traits: what genes and mutations affect the trait, how genes interact with other genes and with the environment, and the molecular basis of the interactions.

“If everything is interactive, the effect of a single gene on a complex trait may be marginal,” said Mackay. “But it’s not impossible to foresee future pharmacological interventions that could improve the quality of life of the aging population.”

Abstract: Mutational analyses in model organisms have shown that genes affecting metabolism and stress resistance regulate life span1, but the genes responsible for variation in longevity in natural populations are largely unidentified. Previously, we mapped quantitative trait loci (QTL) affecting variation in longevity between two Drosophila melanogaster strains2. Here, we show that the longevity QTL in the 36E; 38B cytogenetic interval on chromosome 2 contains multiple closely linked QTL, including the Dopa decarboxylase (Ddc) locus. Complementation tests to mutations show that Ddc is a positional candidate gene for life span in these strains. Linkage disequilibrium (LD) mapping in a sample of 173 alleles from a single population shows that three common molecular polymorphisms in Ddc account for 15.5% of the genetic contribution to variance in life span from chromosome 2. The polymorphisms are in strong LD, and the effects of the haplotypes on longevity suggest maintenance of the polymorphisms by balancing selection. DDC catalyzes the final step in the synthesis of the neurotransmitters, dopamine and serotonin3. Thus, these data implicate variation in the synthesis of bioamines as a major factor contributing to natural variation in individual life span.

Dr. Trudy Mackay | North Carolina State University
Further information:
http://www.ncsu.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Fingerprint' technique spots frog populations at risk from pollution
27.03.2017 | Lancaster University

nachricht Parallel computation provides deeper insight into brain function
27.03.2017 | Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST) Graduate University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

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...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

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...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

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...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

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...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Northern oceans pumped CO2 into the atmosphere

27.03.2017 | Earth Sciences

Fingerprint' technique spots frog populations at risk from pollution

27.03.2017 | Life Sciences

Big data approach to predict protein structure

27.03.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>