Telomere loss has been proposed as a mechanism for counting cell divisions during aging in normal somatic cells. How such a mitotic clock initiates the intracellular signalling events that culminate in G1 cell cycle arrest and senescence to restrict the lifespan of normal human cells is not known. We investigated the possibility that critically short telomere length activates a DNA damage response pathway involving p53 and p21(WAF1) in aging cells.
The yeast Sir2 protein mediates chromatin silencing through an intrinsic NAD-dependent histone deacetylase activity. Sir2 is a conserved protein and was recently shown to regulate lifespan extension both in budding yeast and worms. Here, we show that SIRT1, the human Sir2 homolog, is recruited to the promyelocytic leukemia protein (PML) nuclear bodies of mammalian cells upon overexpression of either PML or oncogenic Ras (Ha-rasV12). SIRT1 binds and deacetylates p53, a component of PML nuclear bodies, and it can repress p53-mediated transactivation.
P. anserina mutants with impairments in complex IV (COX) of the respiratory chain are characterized by an increase in lifespan. Examples are the nuclear grisea mutant with a moderate lifespan extension (60%) and the immortal extranuclear ex1 mutant. Here we report data demonstrating that in mutant ex1 the level of the alternative oxidase (PaAOX) is significantly higher than in mutant grisea. PaAOX levels appear to be reversely dependent on COX activity.
Calorie restriction extends lifespan in organisms ranging from yeast to mammals. In yeast, the SIR2 gene mediates the life-extending effects of calorie restriction. Here we show that the mammalian SIR2 orthologue, Sirt1 (sirtuin 1), activates a critical component of calorie restriction in mammals; that is, fat mobilization in white adipocytes. Upon food withdrawal Sirt1 protein binds to and represses genes controlled by the fat regulator PPAR-gamma (peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-gamma), including genes mediating fat storage.
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.
Fetal cardiomyocytes have been proposed as a potential source of cell-based therapy for heart failure. This study examined cellular senescence in cultured human fetal ventricular cardiomyocytes (HFCs). HFCs were isolated and identified by immunocytochemistry and RT-PCR. Cells were found to senesce after 20-25 population doublings, as determined by growth arrest, morphological changes and senescence-associated beta-galactosidase activity. Using the telomeric repeat amplification protocol assay, telomerase activity was undetectable in primary HFCs.
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.
The ID (inhibitor of differentiation or DNA binding) helix-loop-helix proteins are important mediators of cellular differentiation and proliferation in a variety of cell types through regulation of gene expression. Overexpression of the ID proteins in normal human keratinocytes results in extension of culture lifespan, indicating that these proteins are important for epidermal differentiation. Our hypothesis is that the ID proteins are targets of the retinoic acid signaling pathway in keratinocytes.
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.
Calorie restriction (CR) produces several health benefits and increases lifespan in many species. Studies suggest that alternate-day fasting (ADF) and exercise can also provide these benefits. Whether CR results in lifespan extension in humans is not known and a direct investigation is not feasible. However, phenotypes observed in CR animals when compared to ad libitum fed (AL) animals, including increased stress resistance and changes in protein expression, can be simulated in cells cultured with media supplemented with blood serum from CR and AL animals.