Salk Institute findings on premature aging syndrome could lead to way of slowing or reversing aging process
A study tying the aging process to the deterioration of tightly packaged bundles of cellular DNA could lead to methods of preventing and treating age-related diseases such as cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease, as detailed April 30, 2015, in Science.
In the study, scientists at the Salk Institute and the Chinese Academy of Science found that the genetic mutations underlying Werner syndrome, a disorder that leads to premature aging and death, resulted in the deterioration of bundles of DNA known as heterochromatin.
The discovery, made possible through a combination of cutting-edge stem cell and gene-editing technologies, could lead to ways of countering age-related physiological declines by preventing or reversing damage to heterochromatin.
“Our findings show that the gene mutation that causes Werner syndrome results in the disorganization of heterochromatin, and that this disruption of normal DNA packaging is a key driver of aging,” says Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte, a senior author on the paper. “This has implications beyond Werner syndrome, as it identifies a central mechanism of aging–heterochromatin disorganization–which has been shown to be reversible.”
Werner syndrome is a genetic disorder that causes people to age more rapidly than normal. It affects around one in every 200,000 people in the United States. People with the disorder suffer age-related diseases early in life, including cataracts, type 2 diabetes, hardening of the arteries, osteoporosis and cancer, and most die in their late 40s or early 50s.
The disease is caused by a mutation to the Werner syndrome RecQ helicase-like gene, known as the WRN gene for short, which generates the WRN protein. Previous studies showed that the normal form of the protein is an enzyme that maintains the structure and integrity of a person’s DNA. When the protein is mutated in Werner syndrome it disrupts the replication and repair of DNA and the expression of genes, which was thought to cause premature aging. However, it was unclear exactly how the mutated WRN protein disrupted these critical cellular processes.
In their study, the Salk scientists sought to determine precisely how the mutated WRN protein causes so much cellular mayhem. To do this, they created a cellular model of Werner syndrome by using a cutting-edge gene-editing technology to delete WRN gene in human stem cells. This stem cell model of the disease gave the scientists the unprecedented ability to study rapidly aging cells in the laboratory. The resulting cells mimicked the genetic mutation seen in actual Werner syndrome patients, so the cells began to age more rapidly than normal. On closer examination, the scientists found that the deletion of the WRN gene also led to disruptions to the structure of heterochromatin, the tightly packed DNA found in a cell’s nucleus.
This bundling of DNA acts as a switchboard for controlling genes’ activity and directs a cell’s complex molecular machinery. On the outside of the heterochromatin bundles are chemical markers, known as epigenetic tags, which control the structure of the heterochromatin. For instance, alterations to these chemical switches can change the architecture of the heterochromatin, causing genes to be expressed or silenced.
The Salk researchers discovered that deletion of the WRN gene leads to heterochromatin disorganization, pointing to an important role for the WRN protein in maintaining heterochromatin. And, indeed, in further experiments, they showed that the protein interacts directly with molecular structures known to stabilize heterochromatin–revealing a kind of smoking gun that, for the first time, directly links mutated WRN protein to heterochromatin destabilization.
The Latest on: Human aging
via Google News
The Latest on: Human aging
- A Renaissance of Genomics and Drugs Is Extending Human Longevityon June 26, 2020 at 7:00 am
With the demonetization of genome reading and editing, and thinking of aging as a disease, we are starting to find practical ways to extend our healthspan.
- Pandemic, Aging, and Agencyon June 25, 2020 at 5:54 pm
It judges them as “creatures without potential.” He continues: “No one asks [the aged] any longer, ‘What do you want to do?’ All declare, dispassionately and unflinching, ‘That you've already done.’” ...
- 20 things from Best Buy that make aging in place easieron June 25, 2020 at 10:13 am
From smart thermostats and doorbells to wireless headphones and lights, these smart devices make aging in place easier.
- HHSC Announces Recipients of the Innovators in Aging Awardon June 24, 2020 at 11:56 am
HHSC Announces Recipients of the Innovators in Aging Award. AUSTIN – The Texas Health and Human Services Commission today announced the recipients of the 2019 Innovators in Agin ...
- Scientists just discovered a procedure that reverses the aging processon June 23, 2020 at 9:06 am
In a new study published in the journal Aging, researchers successfully rejuvenated three germ layer tissues in mouse models after exchanging old blood plasma with a mixture of saline and albumin ...
- Will the Pandemic Rob Aging Black Women Again?on June 22, 2020 at 5:06 am
Elderly Black female homeowners lost almost 40 percent of their lifetime wealth in the last recession, much more than other demographics.
- Killifish model helps unravel molecular events that lead to loss of protein homeostasis during brain agingon June 21, 2020 at 1:02 am
Aging is the main risk factor for dementia and Parkinson's disease. As age progresses, toxic protein aggregates pile up in the brain and impair neuronal function.
- Ability to eliminate spent proteins influences brain aging and individual life spanon June 19, 2020 at 7:46 am
Aging is the main risk factor for dementia and Parkinson's disease. As age progresses, toxic protein aggregates pile up in the brain and impair neuronal function. But why does that happen? An ...
- Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) Shareable Infographic: Can Pets Help You Live Longer?on June 16, 2020 at 6:04 am
The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) has created a new, shareable infographic highlighting the science supporting pets for healthy aging. The infographic, "Can Pets Help You Live Longer?", ...
- Viome launches world’s first at-home service to measure and improve immunity, inflammation, gut health and agingon June 16, 2020 at 6:00 am
New Health Intelligence™ service provides advanced molecular health markers and makes precise nutrition recommendations to improve health by integrating analysis of human, mitochondrial and gut ...
via Bing News