Molecular advances of the past decade have led to the discovery of a myriad of 'aging genes' (methuselah, Indy, InR, Chico, superoxide dismutase) that extend Drosophila lifespan by up to 85%. Despite this life extension, these mutants are no longer lived than at least some recently wild-caught strains. Typically, long-lived mutants are identified in relatively short-lived genetic backgrounds, and their effects are rarely tested in genetic backgrounds other than the one in which they were isolated or derived.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
In investigating the role of metal ions in the pathogenesis of Huntington's disease, we examined the effects of clioquinol, a metal-binding compound currently in clinical trials for Alzheimer's disease treatment, on mutant huntingtin-expressing cells. We found that PC12 cells expressing polyglutamine-expanded huntingtin exon 1 accumulated less mutant protein and showed decreased cell death when treated with clioquinol. This effect was polyglutamine-length-specific and did not alter mRNA levels or protein degradation rates.
Protein ubiquitylation is a key post-translational control mechanism contributing to different physiological processes, such as signal transduction and ageing. The size and linkage of a ubiquitin chain, which determines whether a substrate is efficiently targeted for proteasomal degradation, is determined by the interplay between ubiquitylation and deubiquitylation. A conserved factor that orchestrates distinct substrate-processing co-regulators in diverse species is the ubiquitin-selective chaperone CDC-48 (also known as p97).
Insulin and insulin-like signaling regulate survival and lifespan in a variety of animal species, from nematodes and flies to higher vertebrates and mammals. Recently, it was shown that brain IGF-I receptor and brain IRS2 control mammalian lifespan, and that this occurs through neuroendocrine mechanisms, control of energy metabolism and modified stress resistance. Furthermore, it was demonstrated that insulin receptor substrate molecules are implicated downstream of insulin and IGF receptors in the extension of lifespan.
Both poikilotherms and homeotherms live longer at lower body temperatures, highlighting a general role of temperature reduction in lifespan extension. However, the underlying mechanisms remain unclear. One prominent model is that cold temperatures reduce the rate of chemical reactions, thereby slowing the rate of aging. This view suggests that cold-dependent lifespan extension is simply a passive thermodynamic process. Here, we challenge this view in C. elegans by showing that genetic programs actively promote longevity at cold temperatures.
The CISD2 gene, which is an evolutionarily conserved novel gene, encodes a transmembrane protein primarily associated with the mitochondrial outer membrane. Significantly, the CISD2 gene is located within the candidate region on chromosome 4q where a genetic component for human longevity has been mapped. Previously, we have shown that Cisd2 deficiency shortens lifespan resulting in premature aging in mice. Additionally, an age-dependent decrease in Cisd2 expression has been detected during normal aging.
It is hypothesized that a common underlying mechanism links multiple neurodegenerative disorders. Here we show that transitional endoplasmic reticulum ATPase (TERA)/valosin-containing protein (VCP)/p97 directly binds to multiple polyglutamine disease proteins (huntingtin, ataxin-1, ataxin-7 and androgen receptor) via polyglutamine sequence. Although normal and mutant polyglutamine proteins interact with TERA/VCP/p97, only mutant proteins affect dynamism of TERA/VCP/p97.
In polyglutamine (polyQ) diseases, only certain neurons die, despite widespread expression of the offending protein. PolyQ expansion may induce neurodegeneration by impairing proteostasis, but protein aggregation and toxicity tend to confound conventional measurements of protein stability. Here, we used optical pulse labeling to measure effects of polyQ expansions on the mean lifetime of a fragment of huntingtin, the protein that causes Huntington's disease, in living neurons.
Emerging lines of evidence suggest a relationship between amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and protein sumoylation. Multiple studies have demonstrated that several of the proteins involved in the pathogenesis of ALS, including superoxide dismutase 1, fused in liposarcoma, and TAR DNA-binding protein 43 (TDP-43), are substrates for sumoylation.
The Spt-Ada-Gcn5-acetyltransferase (SAGA) chromatin-modifying complex possesses acetyltransferase and deubiquitinase activities. Within this modular complex, Ataxin-7 anchors the deubiquitinase activity to the larger complex. Here we identified and characterized Drosophila Ataxin-7 and found that reduction of Ataxin-7 protein results in loss of components from the SAGA complex.