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Eliminating germline lengthens fly lifespan, Brown study shows
Date:4/23/2008

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] New research by Brown University biologists shows that fruit flies live longer when they dont produce germline stem cells the cells that create eggs and sperm.

The work suggests a provocative general principle at work: Signals from reproductive tissue directly control lifespan and metabolism in the whole organism. The work, which appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, also offers a first glimpse of how this control in the fly might occur at the molecular level.

For more than 50 years, scientists have known that there is a link between reproduction and lifespan, said Thomas Flatt, a postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Brown and the lead author of the research article. When reproduction is delayed, animals live longer. Why? Our research suggests that signals from the reproductive system can regulate aging in animals including, possibly, humans.

The Brown findings follow a seminal discovery made 10 years ago by acclaimed aging biologist Cynthia Kenyon at the University of California, San Francisco. Kenyon found that eliminating germline stem cells in roundworms extended their lifespan.

We wanted to see if Kenyons findings could be duplicated in the fly, said Marc Tatar, the senior scientist on the project and a professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. If so, wed know that reproductive control of lifespan was a general principle in biology.

In their experiments, Flatt and Tatar over-activated a gene that controls germline stem cells in flies, a move that eliminated the cells production. They found that these sterile flies lived 20 to 50 percent longer than typical flies results that matched Kenyons finding in worms.

Flatt and Tatar speculated that these flies might live longer because they are insensitive to the effects of insulin. Past research at Brown, and other universiti
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Contact: Wendy Lawton
Wendy_Lawton@brown.edu
401-863-1862
Brown University
Source:Eurekalert

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