Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Researchers identify gene with functional role in aging of eye

16.01.2020

In mouse studies, a 'methylation clock' on the ELOVL2 gene ticks toward impaired vision, but when gene expression was boosted, age-related visual function improved

A lengthy-named gene called Elongation of Very Long Chain Fatty Acids Protein 2 or ELOVL2 is an established biomarker of age. In a new paper, published online January 14, 2020 in the journal Aging Cell, researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine say the gene appears to play a key role in age-associated functional and anatomical aging in vivo in mouse retinas, a finding that has direct relevance to age-related eye diseases.


This is a confocal microscope image of mouse retina sparkling with fluorescent molecules.

Image courtesy of Keunyoung Kim, Wonkyu Ju and Mark Ellisman, all of the National Center for Microscopy and Imaging Research at UC San Diego.

Specifically, the research team, led by senior author Dorota Skowronska-Krawczyk, PhD, assistant professor in the Viterbi Family Department of Ophthalmology at UC San Diego Shiley Eye Institute, found that an age-related decrease in ELOVL2 gene expression was associated with increased DNA methylation of its promoter.

Methylation is a simple biochemical process in which groups of carbon and hydrogen atoms are transferred from one substance to another. In the case of DNA, methylation of regulatory regions negatively impacts expression of the gene.

When researchers reversed hypermethylation in vivo, they boosted ELOVL2 expression and rescued age-related decline in visual function in mice. "These findings indicate that ELOVL2 actively regulates aging in mouse retina, provides a molecular link between polyunsaturated fatty acids elongation and visual functions, and suggests novel therapeutic strategies for treatment of age-related eye diseases," wrote the authors.

ELOVL2 is involved in production of long-chain omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are used in several crucial biological functions, such as energy production, inflammation response and maintenance of cell membrane integrity. The gene is found in humans as well as mice.

In particular, ELOVL2 regulates levels of docosahexaenoic acid or DHA, a polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acid abundantly found in the brain and retina. DHA is associated with a number of beneficial effects. Notably, its presence in photoreceptors in eyes promotes healthy retinal function, protects against damage from bright light or oxidative stress and has been linked to improving a variety of vision conditions, from age-related macular (AMD) degeneration to diabetic eye disease and dry eyes.

Skowronska-Krawczyk said the work demonstrated for the first time that a "methylation clock" gene had a functional role in the aging of an organ. In this case, the eye. DNA methylation is used throughout the human body, essentially turning biological switches on an off to maximize efficient operation. It has key regulatory roles in the body's cardiovascular, neurological, reproductive and detoxification systems.

In recent years, there has been much work and progress in identifying possible biomarkers that predict the biological age (not chronological) of individuals. Such biomarkers would be useful in identifying risk and status of age-related diseases. ELOVL2 is among the genes attracting greatest interest.

"I have been asked whether I think ELOVL2 is the aging gene," said Skowronska-Krawczyk. "After thinking about it, it is not unreasonable to think that lower ELOVL2 expression might be at the basis for many age-related conditions. Future work in our lab will address that question."

Co-authors of this study include: co-first authors Daniel Chen and Daniel Chao as well as Lorena Rocha, Viet Ahn Nguyen Huu, Michal Krawczyk, Manish Dasyani, Tina Wang, Maryam Jafari, Mary Jabari, Kevin D. Ross, Bruce Hamilton, and Kang Zhang, all at UC San Diego; and Matthew Kolar and Alan Saghatelian, Salk Institute for Biological Studies.

###

Disclosure: In February 2019, a patent was licensed from UC San Diego to Visgenx, a startup company focused on developing new treatments for dry AMD. Skowronska-Krawczyk and Daniel Chao, MD, PhD, assistant clinical professor of ophthalmology and co-first author of the study, are co-founders and have equity interest. Chao is also a consultant. The company is developing therapeutics for dry AMD exploiting an approach described in the latest paper.

Media Contact

Scott LaFee
slafee@ucsd.edu
858-249-0456

 @UCSanDiego

http://www.ucsd.edu 

Scott LaFee | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/acel.13100

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht UTMB researchers have discovered a new antiviral mechanism for dengue therapeutics
14.07.2020 | University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston

nachricht Scientists use nanoparticle-delivered gene therapy to inhibit blinding eye disease in rodents
08.07.2020 | Johns Hopkins Medicine

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Electron cryo-microscopy: Using inexpensive technology to produce high-resolution images

Biochemists at Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) have used a standard electron cryo-microscope to achieve surprisingly good images that are on par with those taken by far more sophisticated equipment. They have succeeded in determining the structure of ferritin almost at the atomic level. Their results were published in the journal "PLOS ONE".

Electron cryo-microscopy has become increasingly important in recent years, especially in shedding light on protein structures. The developers of the new...

Im Focus: The spin state story: Observation of the quantum spin liquid state in novel material

New insight into the spin behavior in an exotic state of matter puts us closer to next-generation spintronic devices

Aside from the deep understanding of the natural world that quantum physics theory offers, scientists worldwide are working tirelessly to bring forth a...

Im Focus: Excitation of robust materials

Kiel physics team observed extremely fast electronic changes in real time in a special material class

In physics, they are currently the subject of intensive research; in electronics, they could enable completely new functions. So-called topological materials...

Im Focus: Electrons in the fast lane

Solar cells based on perovskite compounds could soon make electricity generation from sunlight even more efficient and cheaper. The laboratory efficiency of these perovskite solar cells already exceeds that of the well-known silicon solar cells. An international team led by Stefan Weber from the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) in Mainz has found microscopic structures in perovskite crystals that can guide the charge transport in the solar cell. Clever alignment of these "electron highways" could make perovskite solar cells even more powerful.

Solar cells convert sunlight into electricity. During this process, the electrons of the material inside the cell absorb the energy of the light....

Im Focus: The lightest electromagnetic shielding material in the world

Empa researchers have succeeded in applying aerogels to microelectronics: Aerogels based on cellulose nanofibers can effectively shield electromagnetic radiation over a wide frequency range – and they are unrivalled in terms of weight.

Electric motors and electronic devices generate electromagnetic fields that sometimes have to be shielded in order not to affect neighboring electronic...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Contact Tracing Apps against COVID-19: German National Academy Leopoldina hosts international virtual panel discussion

07.07.2020 | Event News

International conference QuApps shows status quo of quantum technology

02.07.2020 | Event News

Dresden Nexus Conference 2020: Same Time, Virtual Format, Registration Opened

19.05.2020 | Event News

 
Latest News

Shedding light on the brown color of algae

14.07.2020 | Life Sciences

Color barcode becomes ISO standard

14.07.2020 | Information Technology

New substance library to accelerate the search for active compounds

14.07.2020 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>