Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Gene defect linked to premature aging

28.04.2004


Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center researchers have identified a gene that, when altered makes cells and animals age prematurely and die. The findings, reported in the May 1 edition of Genes and Development, may provide a new target for therapies that force cancer cells to an early death.



The gene, called PASG (Proliferation Associated SNF2-like Gene), normally works by decreasing the activity of other genes in two different ways: helping to add chemical groups to DNA, in a process known as methylation, or by modifying protein structures called histones that help wind DNA into compact coils.

"In order to grow and stay alive, cells depend on the PASG gene to reduce the activity of other genes, but it’s a very complicated process - much like modifying the engine of an F-15 fighter jet while it’s flying," says Robert Arceci, M.D., Ph.D., King Fahd Professor and Director of Pediatric Oncology, and director of the study.


The Hopkins team began investigating the PASG gene after finding that its activity is integrally involved in cell growth and mutated forms of the gene occur in acute leukemias. Using genetically engineered mice, Arceci’s team knocked out part of the "core engine" of the PASG gene, decreasing methylation throughout the genome and allowing the wrong genes, particularly those associated with premature aging, to be active all the time. The result was that mice with this mutated PASG protein showed signs of premature aging and profound growth problems, including low birth-weight, graying and loss of hair, skeletal abnormalities, reduced fat and early death.

"To keep body tissues working correctly, the PASG gene appears to help cells regenerate, mature and prevent early aging," explains Arceci. "Each cell is programmed with a set number of replications before it dies. With a mutated PASG gene, the cell may replicate only a fraction of the time, and then it dies prematurely," explains Arceci.

"If PASG’s methylation activity could be blocked in human cancer cells, we could potentially cause them to age faster and die earlier," says Arceci.

Not to be confused with a cell death process called apoptosis, which cuts the DNA into a million pieces, this aging process, called replicative senescence, lets the cell live for a limited period of time with a reduced number of cell divisions before it ages and dies.

The researchers are beginning to screen compounds for activity in blocking the PASG gene in tumor cells and mice. Human studies are not planned at this time.

This research was funded by the Children’s Cancer Foundation, the Higgin’s Scholar Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.

Additional participants in this research were Lin-Quan Sun, David W. Lee, Quangeng Zhang, Weihong Xiao, Eric H. Raabe, Allen Meeker, and David Huso from Johns Hopkins and Dengshun Miao from McGill University, Canada.



Johns Hopkins Medicine
Office of Communications and Public Affairs
Media Contact: Vanessa Wasta
410-955-1287
wastava@jhmi.edu

Vanessa Wasta | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Fine organic particles in the atmosphere are more often solid glass beads than liquid oil droplets
21.04.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Chemie

nachricht Study overturns seminal research about the developing nervous system
21.04.2017 | University of California - Los Angeles Health Sciences

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

Im Focus: Quantum-physical Model System

Computer-assisted methods aid Heidelberg physicists in reproducing experiment with ultracold atoms

Two researchers at Heidelberg University have developed a model system that enables a better understanding of the processes in a quantum-physical experiment...

Im Focus: Glacier bacteria’s contribution to carbon cycling

Glaciers might seem rather inhospitable environments. However, they are home to a diverse and vibrant microbial community. It’s becoming increasingly clear that they play a bigger role in the carbon cycle than previously thought.

A new study, now published in the journal Nature Geoscience, shows how microbial communities in melting glaciers contribute to the Earth’s carbon cycle, a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New quantum liquid crystals may play role in future of computers

21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A promising target for kidney fibrosis

21.04.2017 | Health and Medicine

Light rays from a supernova bent by the curvature of space-time around a galaxy

21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>