We have taken an engineering approach to extending the lifespan of Caenorhabditis elegans. Aging stands out as a complex trait, because events that occur in old animals are not under strong natural selection. As a result, lifespan can be lengthened rationally using bioengineering to modulate gene expression or to add exogenous components. Here, we engineered longer lifespan by expressing genes from zebrafish encoding molecular functions not normally present in worms. Additionally, we extended lifespan by increasing the activity of four endogenous worm aging pathways.
The study of telomere biology is crucial to the understanding of aging and cancer. In the pursuit of greater knowledge in the field of human telomere biology, the mouse has been used extensively as a model. However, there are fundamental differences between mouse and human cells. Therefore, additional models are required. In light of this, we have characterized telomerase-deficient zebrafish (Danio rerio) as the second vertebrate model for human telomerase-driven diseases.
Histone H3K4 demethylase LSD1 plays an important role in stem cell biology, especially in the maintenance of the silencing of differentiation genes. However, how the function of LSD1 is regulated and the differentiation genes are derepressed are not understood. Here, we report that elimination of LSD1 promotes embryonic stem cell (ESC) differentiation toward neural lineage. We showed that the destabilization of LSD1 occurs posttranscriptionally via the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway by an E3 ubiquitin ligase, Jade-2.
The adult fish brain undergoes continuous neurogenesis and retains the capacity to regenerate. However, the cellular and molecular basis of this process is not well understood. We report on the cloning and characterization of a Brain-1-related, class III POU domain gene, tai-ji, in the developing and adult zebrafish, as well as in a human cell line, hNT2. During development, as differentiation occurs, the expression of tai-ji is downregulated in the notochord, muscle, nervous system and dorsal fin.
C. elegans and D. rerio expressing mutant TAR DNA Binding Protein 43 (TDP-43) are powerful in vivo animal models for the genetics and pharmacology of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Using these small-animal models of ALS, we previously identified methylene blue (MB) as a potent suppressor of TDP-43 toxicity. Consequently here we investigated how MB might exert its neuroprotective properties and found that it acts through reduction of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress response.