Navigation Links
Recruitment of reproductive features into other cell types may underlie extended lifespan in animals
Date:6/7/2009

In the sense that organisms existing today are connected through a chain of life through their parents, grandparents and other ancestors almost a billion years back to the first animals of the pre-Cambrian era, an animal's reproductive cells can be considered to be immortal. These germline cells generate their offspring's somatic cells other cells involved in all aspects of growth, metabolism and behavior, which have a set lifespan and new germline cells that continue on, generation after generation.

Now in a dramatic finding, researchers from the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Department of Molecular Biology have found that certain genetic mutations known to extend the lifespan of the C. elegans roundworm induce 'mortal' somatic cells to express some of the genes that allow the 'immortality' of reproductive germline cells. Their report will appear in the journal Nature and is receiving advance online release.

"C. elegans mutants with extreme longevity accomplish this feat, in part, by adopting genetic programs normally restricted to the germline into somatic cells," says Sean Curran, PhD, of MGH Molecular Biology, the study's lead author. "We know that germline cells are more stable than somatic cells they live longer and are more resistant to stresses that damage other cells and understanding the molecular pathways involved in that stability may someday allow us to devise therapies protective against age-related decline in other tissues."

Curran is a research fellow in the laboratory of MGH investigator Gary Ruvkun, PhD, whose work focuses on the development, longevity and metabolism of C. elegans, a tiny worm broadly used as a model for studying basic biological systems. Ruvkun and other researchers discovered that simple mutations in genetic pathways conserved throughout evolution can double or triple the lifespan of C. elegans, and that similar mutations in the corresponding pathways also dramatically extend mammalian lifespan.

Longevity-associated mutations have been shown to lead to enhanced immune response including increased control of gene expression through RNA interference (RNAi) in somatic cells. Since it is known that RNAi is among the mechanisms underlying germline cells' enhanced resistance to pathogens and other stresses, the researchers examined whether the reactivation of germline genetic programs was involved in the extended lifespan of C. elegans mutants.

A series of experiments demonstrated that worms with increased longevity induced by mutations in the insulin-like signaling pathway did exhibit somatic cell expression of genes usually active only in germline cells. The mutant worms also were protected from stresses that damaged the DNA of non-mutant worms. The researchers also found that inactivating germline-expressed genes in the mutant worms eliminated the increased lifespan and that longevity-associated mutations in two genes from a different metabolic pathway one involved with detoxification and stress response also increased the expression of germline markers.

"The idea that somatic cells can reacquire genetic pathways usually restricted to germline cells is fascinating, and since germline protection is seen across species, the activity of these genes may play a role in controlling mammalian lifespan," says Ruvkun, senior author of the Nature paper. "Understanding the mechanisms involved in this transformation could help us develop new ways to repair and even regenerate key cells and tissues." A professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School, Ruvkun was a co-recipient of the 2008 Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research for his role in discovering that tiny molecules of RNA can control the activity of critical genes


'/>"/>

Contact: Sue McGreevey
smcgreevey@partners.org
617-724-2764
Massachusetts General Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Study finds Viagra increases release of key reproductive hormone
2. Study identifies pathway required for normal reproductive development
3. Physician-scientists seek solutions to reproductive problems related to chromosomal variations
4. Reproductive plasticity revealed: Neotropical treefrog can choose to lay eggs in water or on land
5. W.M. Keck Foundation grant funds reproductive science research
6. New study shows compounds from soy affect brain and reproductive development
7. Trends in prescription medication sharing among reproductive-aged women
8. Rutgers scholar authors definitive biography of reproductive medicine pioneer
9. Exposing chicks to maternal stress leads to long-term reproductive success
10. In many fungi, reproductive spores are remarkably aerodynamic
11. Reproductive life of male mice is increased by living with females
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:5/6/2017)... 5, 2017 RAM Group , ... new breakthrough in biometric authentication based on a ... properties to perform biometric authentication. These new sensors are ... created by Ram Group and its partners. This sensor ... supply chains and security. Ram Group is a ...
(Date:4/19/2017)... The global military biometrics market ... by the presence of several large global players. The ... major players - 3M Cogent, NEC Corporation, M2SYS Technology, ... 61% of the global military biometric market in 2016. ... military biometrics market boast global presence, which has catapulted ...
(Date:4/17/2017)... April 17, 2017 NXT-ID, Inc. (NASDAQ: ... the filing of its 2016 Annual Report on Form 10-K on ... ... is available in the Investor Relations section of the Company,s website ... SEC,s website at http://www.sec.gov . 2016 Year Highlights: ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/10/2017)... 2017 SomaGenics announced the receipt of a ... RealSeq®-SC (Single Cell), expected to be the first commercially ... microRNAs) from single cells using NGS methods. The NIH,s ... accelerate development of approaches to analyze the heterogeneity of ... techniques for measuring levels of mRNAs in individual cells ...
(Date:10/9/2017)... ... October 09, 2017 , ... The award-winning American Farmer ... first quarter 2018. American Farmer airs Tuesdays at 8:30aET on RFD-TV. , With ... with the challenge of how to continue to feed a growing nation. At the ...
(Date:10/7/2017)... ... October 06, 2017 , ... ... for microscopy and surface analysis, Nanoscience Instruments is now expanding into Analytical ... broad range of contract analysis services for advanced applications. Services will leverage ...
(Date:10/6/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... October 06, 2017 , ... ... host a lunch discussion and webinar on INSIGhT, the first-ever adaptive clinical trial ... Investigator, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. The event is free and open to the public, ...
Breaking Biology Technology: