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 Researchers develop eco-friendly, 4-in-1 catalyst
25.04.2017 | Brown University

nachricht Transfecting cells gently – the LZH presents a GNOME prototype at the Labvolution 2017
25.04.2017 | Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V.

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

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...

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

NASA's Fermi catches gamma-ray flashes from tropical storms

25.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Researchers invent process to make sustainable rubber, plastics

25.04.2017 | Materials Sciences

Transfecting cells gently – the LZH presents a GNOME prototype at the Labvolution 2017

25.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>