Cognitive plasticity, a developmental trait that promotes acquisition of complex skills such as language or playing musical instruments, diminishes substantially during puberty. The loss of plasticity has been attributed to surge of sex steroids during adolescence, but the phenomenon remains poorly understood. We hypothesize that pineal involution during puberty may contribute to plasticity decay. The pineal gland produces melatonin, the level of which declines dramatically during onset of puberty.
FOXO (Forkhead box O) transcription factors constitute an evolutionally conserved subgroup within the large Forkhead family of transcription regulators. FOXO factors are important regulators of the cell cycle, apoptosis, DNA repair, metabolism, oxidative stress resistance and longevity. Genetic studies of Caenorhabditis elegans demonstrated that FOXO factors are major targets of the insulin-like signalling implicated during the regulation of glucose metabolism and lifespan extension.
In the Georgia Centenarian Study (Poon et al., Exceptional Longevity, 2006), centenarian cases and young controls are classified according to three categories (age, ethnic origin, and single nucleotide polymorphisms [SNPs] of candidate longevity genes), where each factor has two possible levels. Here we provide methodologies to determine the minimum sample size needed to detect dependence in 2 x 2 x 2 tables based on Fisher's exact test evaluated exactly or by Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC), assuming only the case total L and the control total N are known.
This short review portrays the evolutionary theories of aging in the light of the existing discoveries from genomic and molecular genetic studies on aging and longevity. At the outset, an historical background for the development of the evolutionary theories of aging is presented through the works of August Weismann (programmed death and the germ plasm theories) including his exceptional theoretical postulation, later experimentally validated by the existence of cell division limits.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
In the first paper to present formal theory explaining that senescence is a consequence of natural selection, W. D. Hamilton concluded that human postmenopausal longevity results from the contributions of ancestral grandmothers to the reproduction of their relatives. A grandmother hypothesis, subsequently elaborated with additional lines of evidence, helps explain both exceptional longevity and additional features of life history that distinguish humans from the other great apes.
The PTPN22 gene, located on chromosome 1p13, encoding lymphoid protein tyrosine phosphatase (LYP), plays a crucial role in the negative control of T lymphocyte activation. Since the age-related change in T-cell signal transduction may be one of the most important causes of cell-mediated immune response decline with ageing, we performed a population-based association study to test whether the PTPN22 1858C>T (R620W) functional polymorphism affects the ability to survive to old age and to reach even exceptional life expectancy.
Like most complex phenotypes, exceptional longevity is thought to reflect a combined influence of environmental (e.g., lifestyle choices, where we live) and genetic factors. To explore the genetic contribution, we undertook a genome-wide association study of exceptional longevity in 801 centenarians (median age at death 104 years) and 914 genetically matched healthy controls.
Cellular processes function through multistep pathways that are reliant on the controlled association and disassociation of sequential protein complexes. While dynamic action is critical to propagate and terminate work, the mechanisms used to disassemble biological structures are not fully understood. Here we show that the p23 molecular chaperone initiates disassembly of protein-DNA complexes and that the GCN5 acetyltransferase prolongs the dissociated state through lysine acetylation.
Several studies have shown that genetic factors account for 25% of the variation in human life span. On the basis of published molecular, genetic and epidemiological data, we hypothesized that genetic polymorphisms of taste receptors, which modulate food preferences but are also expressed in a number of organs and regulate food absorption processing and metabolism, could modulate the aging process.
It is widely believed that aging results from the accumulation of molecular damage, including damage of DNA and mitochondria and accumulation of molecular garbage both inside and outside of the cell. Recently, this paradigm is being replaced by the "hyperfunction theory", which postulates that aging is caused by activation of signal transduction pathways such as TOR (Target of Rapamycin). These pathways consist of different enzymes, mostly kinases, but also phosphatases, deacetylases, GTPases, and some other molecules that cause overactivation of normal cellular functions.