When overexpressed, the NAD-dependent protein deacetylase Sir2 extends the lifespan of both budding yeast and the nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans. In the worm, this extension of lifespan requires the FOXO transcription factor daf-16. Three recent articles focusing on mammalian homologues of Sir2 and FOXO have highlighted the mechanisms that generate this genetic interaction. Mammalian SIRT1 deacetylates FOXO3 and/or FOXO4, thus attenuating FOXO-induced apoptosis and potentiating FOXO-induced cell-cycle arrest.
In lower organisms, increased expression of the NAD-dependent deacetylase Sir2 augments lifespan. The mechanism through which this life extension is mediated remains incompletely understood. Here we have examined the cellular effects of overexpression of SIRT1, the closest mammalian ortholog of Sir2. In PC12 cells, increased expression of the NAD-dependent deacetylase SIRT1 reduces cellular oxygen consumption by approximately 25%. We further demonstrate that SIRT1 expression can alter the transcriptional activity of the mitochondrial biogenesis coactivator PGC-1alpha.
A wide range of human diseases, including cancer, has a striking age-dependent onset. However, the molecular mechanisms that connect aging and cancer are just beginning to be unraveled. FOXO transcription factors are promising candidates to serve as molecular links between longevity and tumor suppression. These factors are major substrates of the protein kinase Akt. In the presence of insulin and growth factors, FOXO proteins are relocalized from the nucleus to the cytoplasm and degraded via the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway.
FKHRL1 is one of the human homologues of DAF-16, which is concerned with longevity in Caenorhabditis elegans. Previously, we demonstrated that FKHRL1 functions downstream of Akt in erythropoietin (EPO) signaling and that it is directly phosphorylated by activated Akt. Because phosphorylated FKHRL1 loses its transcriptional activity and translocates into the cytoplasm, FKHRL1 appears to be nonfunctional in the presence of EPO.
Ageing is associated with an increased onset of cancer. Understanding the molecular mechanisms that underlie the age dependency of cancer will have important implications for preventing and treating this pathology. The signalling pathway connecting insulin and FOXO transcription factors provides the most compelling example for a conserved genetic pathway at the interface between ageing and cancer. FOXO transcription factors (FOXO) promote longevity and tumour suppression.
Mutations in single genes and environmental interventions can extend healthy lifespan in laboratory model organisms. Some of the mechanisms involved show evolutionary conservation, opening the way to using simpler invertebrates to understand human ageing. Forkhead transcription factors have been found to play a key role in lifespan extension by alterations in the insulin/IGF pathway and by dietary restriction. Interventions that extend lifespan have also been found to delay or ameliorate the impact of ageing-related pathology and disease, including cancer.
Reactive oxygen species (ROS) and cellular oxidative stress are involved in many physiological and pathophysiological processes, including cellular and organismal aging, migration, proliferation, senescence or death of normal and cancer cells, and stress resistance of stem cells. The forkhead homeobox type O (FOXO) transcription factors FOXO1, FOXO3a, and FOXO4 are critical mediators of the cellular responses to oxidative stress and have been implicated in many of the above ROS-regulated processes.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
The human forkhead box O3A gene (FOXO3A) encodes an evolutionarily conserved key regulator of the insulin-IGF1 signaling pathway that is known to influence metabolism and lifespan in model organisms. A recent study described 3 SNPs in the FOXO3A gene that were statistically significantly associated with longevity in a discovery sample of long-lived men of Japanese ancestry [Willcox et al. (2008) Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 105:13987-13992]. However, this finding required replication in an independent population.
Aging is a complex process that is accompanied by the onset of a series of age-related diseases, including Alzheimer's disease. Aging is controlled by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Among the genes that regulate aging, the insulin-FOXO signaling pathway plays a central role, as this pathway regulates lifespan in multiple species, such as worms, flies, and mice. In humans, exceptional longevity - being a centenarian - is also associated with genetic variation in this insulin-FOXO pathway.
Helminth parasites survive through a combination of parasite longevity, repeated re-infection and selective immune suppression to prevent protective Th2 responses. To counteract helminth-induced immunosuppression, and to induce long-term immunological memory, understanding of the multiple regulatory pathways within the T cell compartment is needed. Extrinsic inhibition by regulatory T cells is a key element of Th2 suppression.