Imagine that by altering the function of a single gene, you could live longer, be thinner and have lower cholesterol and fat levels in your blood.
Medical College of Georgia researchers are using a tiny worm called C. elegans to transform that vision into reality. Researchers You-Jun Fei and Vadivel Ganapathy have found the Indy gene is critical in providing cells with energy, producing a transporter that helps deliver key ingredients of the fuel that drives cells. Indy delivers metabolic substrates such as citrate and succinate to cells where they enter the powerhouse called the mitochondria. Inside the powerhouse, oxygen also is critical to the biochemical reaction that occurs to produce ATP, the fuel for cells, says Dr. Fei, molecular biologist.
An unfortunate byproduct of this oxygen metabolism is reactive oxygen species, a sort of cellular trash that ages cells and may contribute to diseases from Parkinson’s to Alzheimer’s. "This is why people think we age; these byproducts of oxygen metabolism cause cells to degenerate," says Dr. Ganapathy, biochemist who becomes chair of the MCG Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology July 1.
Toni Baker | EurekAlert!
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