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For the first time: Longevity modulated without disrupting life-sustaining function

necessary genes to help the body take care of the stressful situation. But food shortages aren't the only triggers for the stress program. Others are the heat that scrambles proteins into toxic clumps and marauding parasites. Highly reactive molecules known as free radicals also unleash DAF-16.

If the worms are having a good day in a favorable environment, but for some reason DAF-2 signaling gets turned off precociously, the worms reap the benefit of increased stress resistance and double their lifespan from an average of 20 to 40 days. Except the worms trade a trim life focused on reproduction for a long life with fewer progeny and a tendency to halt larval development and enter a dormant, hibernation-like stage in which they can hang on for months but don't reproduce.

Unless Smk-1 is missing, that is.

Without Smk-1 to provide guiding assistance, DAF-16 is unable to slow down the aging process, and the worms die young. "These mutants are shorter lived because they are unable to respond appropriately to oxidative stress, but they are just as resistant to heat stress as wild type worms whose signaling pathways have not been experimentally manipulated," explained Wolff.

"In the future, we may use this protein as a tool to study the genetic and metabolic requirements for extending longevity without causing diverse, wide-ranging effects on the development and maintenance of the physiological equilibrium in the organism," said Dillin.


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Source:Salk Institute


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