Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Decrease Cancer-Suppressing Protein Activity, Increase Life Span

22.11.2005


Fruit flies can live significantly longer, and remain healthy, when activity of the fly version of the tumor-suppressing protein p53 is reduced in nerve cells. Published in Current Biology, the results shed important new light on the role this "protector of the genome" plays in aging and point to p53 as a viable target for anti-aging drugs.



The p53 gene plays a critical role in the body. It protects human cells by producing a protein that triggers apoptosis, or cell suicide, when DNA is badly damaged. This prevents the spread of genetic mutations and the formation of cancer. When the p53 gene is damaged or missing, cancer may result. In fact, more than 50 percent of human cancers carry p53 mutations.

There is, however, a flip side to this guardian gene. When p53 is hyperactive - pumping out higher-than-normal levels of tumor-suppressing protein - it accelerates aging and shortens life span in mice.


"What this new work shows is that there is a ’golden mean’ with p53," said Stephen Helfand, a Brown University biologist who served as senior scientist for the study. "By targeting a decrease in p53 protein, specifically in neurons, we can extend healthy life span in fruit flies. This is an important conceptual shift. Decreasing the activity of p53 can have positive effects on aging."

Helfand, now a professor in Brown’s Department of Molecular Biology, Cell Biology and Bio-chemistry, oversaw the project while at the University of Connecticut Health Center. To test speculation that tinkering with p53 could produce life-extending results, Helfand and colleagues designed an experiment using fruit flies - which share thousands of genes with humans and also express a version of the p53 gene.

The team engineered a line of flies that carried a mutant version of p53. When flies had the altered gene switched on, they produced a mutant form of the p53 protein that deactivated normal p53 protein. But the affect was targeted to occur only in neurons. Why single out neurons? Because adult nerve cells don’t divide - making them much less prone to cancer.

Results showed that adult mutant flies lived up to 58 percent longer - an average of 60 days, up from the average of 38 days. At the same time, the flies appeared healthy, continuing to feed, move and reproduce normally.

The experiment does not explain why targeted, decreased p53 activity extends healthy life span. But it suggests a mechanism - caloric restriction, a biochemical cascade proven to slow aging. To test the hypothesis, the specially engineered flies were fed a calorie-diluted diet. But the flies didn’t live any longer, suggesting that this pathway was, indeed, already in play.

"We believe that p53 is part of the caloric restriction life span extension pathway," Helfand said. "It’s not the entire explanation, but it appears to play a major role."

The research team includes Brown post-doctorate research fellow Johannes Bauer and graduate student Peter Poon, as well as Heather Glatt-Deeley, a research assistant at the University of Connecticut. John Abrams, an associate professor at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, also contributed.

The National Institute on Aging, The Donaghue Foundation, the American Federation for Aging Research, The Glenn Foundation for Medical Research, and the Ellison Medical Foundation funded the work.

Wendy Lawton | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.brown.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Transforming plant cells from generalists to specialists
07.12.2016 | Duke University

nachricht What happens in the cell nucleus after fertilization
06.12.2016 | Helmholtz Zentrum München - Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Predicting unpredictability: Information theory offers new way to read ice cores

07.12.2016 | Earth Sciences

Sea ice hit record lows in November

07.12.2016 | Earth Sciences

New material could lead to erasable and rewriteable optical chips

07.12.2016 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>