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 Microscope measures muscle weakness
16.11.2018 | Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg

nachricht Good preparation is half the digestion
16.11.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Stoffwechselforschung

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: UNH scientists help provide first-ever views of elusive energy explosion

Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have captured a difficult-to-view singular event involving "magnetic reconnection"--the process by which sparse particles and energy around Earth collide producing a quick but mighty explosion--in the Earth's magnetotail, the magnetic environment that trails behind the planet.

Magnetic reconnection has remained a bit of a mystery to scientists. They know it exists and have documented the effects that the energy explosions can...

Im Focus: A Chip with Blood Vessels

Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.

Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...

Im Focus: A Leap Into Quantum Technology

Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.

In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...

Im Focus: Research icebreaker Polarstern begins the Antarctic season

What does it look like below the ice shelf of the calved massive iceberg A68?

On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.

Im Focus: Penn engineers develop ultrathin, ultralight 'nanocardboard'

When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure

Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

“3rd Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2018” Attracts International Experts and Users

09.11.2018 | Event News

On the brain’s ability to find the right direction

06.11.2018 | Event News

European Space Talks: Weltraumschrott – eine Gefahr für die Gesellschaft?

23.10.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Purdue cancer identity technology makes it easier to find a tumor's 'address'

16.11.2018 | Health and Medicine

Good preparation is half the digestion

16.11.2018 | Life Sciences

Microscope measures muscle weakness

16.11.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>