Researchers have discovered that the loss of a gene called p63 accelerates aging in mice. Similar versions of the gene are present in many organisms, including humans. Therefore, the p63 gene is likely to play a fundamental biological role in aging-related processes.
8-month-old normal (top) and p63 deficient mice. Courtesy Alea Mills, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
"To study how the p63 gene works, we devised a system for eliminating it from adult mouse tissues. What struck us right away was that these p63 deficient mice were aging prematurely," says Alea Mills of Cold Spring Harbor laboratory, who led the research.
Mice that are born without the p63 gene do not survive. Therefore, Mills had previously conducted extensive studies of mice that are born with only one copy of the gene. Still, these animals die at a young age. So to study p63 function in adults, Mills and her colleagues devised a sophisticated molecular genetic technique that enabled them to eliminate both copies of the gene from particular tissues--including skin and other multi-layered epithelial tissues--after the animals reached maturity.
Lisa Becker | EurekAlert!
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