Neurodegeneration is a hallmark of the human disease ataxia-telangiectasia (A-T) that is caused by mutation of the A-T mutated (ATM) gene. We have analyzed Drosophila melanogaster ATM mutants to determine the molecular mechanisms underlying neurodegeneration in A-T. Previously, we found that ATM mutants upregulate the expression of innate immune response (IIR) genes and undergo neurodegeneration in the central nervous system. Here, we present evidence that activation of the IIR is a cause of neurodegeneration in ATM mutants.
Cells respond to accumulation of misfolded proteins in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) by activating the unfolded protein response (UPR) signaling pathway. The UPR restores ER homeostasis by degrading misfolded proteins, inhibiting translation, and increasing expression of chaperones that enhance ER protein folding capacity. Although ER stress and protein aggregation have been implicated in aging, the role of UPR signaling in regulating lifespan remains unknown. Here we show that deletion of several UPR target genes significantly increases replicative lifespan in yeast.
In vertebrates and invertebrates, relationships between diet and health are controlled by a conserved signalling pathway responsive to insulin-like ligands. In invertebrate models for example, forkhead transcription factor family O (FOXO) transcription factors in this pathway regulate the rate of aging in response to dietary cues, and in vertebrates, obesity and age-induced deficits in the same pathway are thought to contribute to dysregulation of hepatic gluconeogenesis through genes such as phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase (PEPCK).
Can we extend human lifespan? Do we need to regulate lifestyle choices or can we simply pop a pill to make us live longer? These are questions raised by two new studies demonstrating significant lifespan extension in mice fed the drug rapamycin in their diet and in calorically restricted rhesus monkeys.
Although it has been known since 1917 that calorie restriction (CR) decelerates aging, the topic remains highly controversial. What might be the reason? Here I discuss that the anti-aging effect of CR rules out accumulation of DNA damage and failure of maintenance as a cause of aging. Instead, it suggests that aging is driven in part by the nutrient-sensing TOR (target of rapamycin) network. CR deactivates the TOR pathway, thus slowing aging and delaying diseases of aging.
Among the notable trends seen in this year's highlights in mammalian aging research is an awakening of interest in the assessment of age-related measures of mouse health in addition to the traditional focus on longevity. One finding of note is that overexpression of telomerase extended life and improved several indices of health in mice that had previously been genetically rendered cancer resistant. In another study, resveratrol supplementation led to amelioration of several degenerative conditions without affecting mouse lifespan.
The Journals of Gerontology. Series A, Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences
The societal impact of obesity, diabetes, and other metabolic disorders continues to rise despite increasing evidence of their negative long-term consequences on health span, longevity, and aging. Unfortunately, dietary management and exercise frequently fail as remedies, underscoring the need for the development of alternative interventions to successfully treat metabolic disorders and enhance life span and health span.
DR (dietary restriction), or reduced food intake without malnutrition, is associated with extended longevity, improved metabolic fitness and increased stress resistance in a wide range of organisms. DR is often referred to as calorie restriction, implying that reduced energy intake is responsible for its widespread and evolutionarily conserved benefits. However, recent data indicate dietary amino acid restriction as a key mediator of DR benefits. In fruitflies, an imbalance in essential amino acid intake is thought to underlie longevity benefits of DR.
Mutation of the template region in the RNA component of telomerase can cause incorporation of mutant DNA sequences at telomeres. We made all 63 mutant sequence combinations at template positions 474-476 of the yeast telomerase RNA, TLC1. Mutants contained faithfully incorporated template mutations, as well as misincorporated sequences in telomeres, a phenotype not previously reported for Saccharomyces cerevisiae telomerase template mutants. Although growth rates and telomere profiles varied widely among the tlc1 mutants, chromosome separation and segregation were always aberrant.
Telomeres are elongated by the enzyme telomerase, which contains a template-bearing RNA (TER or TERC) and a protein reverse transcriptase. Overexpression of a particular mutant human TER with a mutated template sequence (MT-hTer-47A) in telomerase-positive cancer cells causes incorporation of mutant telomeric sequences, telomere uncapping, and initiation of a DNA damage response, ultimately resulting in cell growth inhibition and apoptosis. The DNA damage pathways underlying these cellular effects are not well understood.