Epigenetic mechanism appears to strongly influence healthy aging

phys.org | 7/12/2019 | Staff
loranseen (Posted by) Level 3
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Researchers at the Max Delbrueck Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) have identified an epigenetic mechanism that appears to strongly influence healthy aging. It's a protein that controls muscle integrity, lifespan and levels of an essential sugar. How does one protein have that much power?

Researchers at MDC's Berlin Institute for Medical Systems Biology (BIMSB) have found a protein that has a significant impact on healthy muscles and lifespan. Animals lacking this protein, called LIN-53, have severe muscle defects, limited motility, and die early compared to animals with the protein.

Dr - Baris - Tursun - BIMSB - Gene

Dr. Baris Tursun, who leads BIMSB's Gene Regulation and Cell Fate Decision Lab, and his collaborators figured out two specific ways LIN-53 works in roundworms. Their findings, reported in the journal Aging Cell, lay the groundwork for further studies on the human version of the protein.

"Identifying the genetic factors that play a role in linking lifespan and healthspan is key for understanding human health and aging-related diseases such as muscular dystrophy," Tursun said.

LIN-53 - Protein - Histone - Chaperone - Molecules

LIN-53 is not just any protein, it is a histone chaperone, binding to the molecules called histones that long DNA strands tightly wrap around to fit in the cell nucleus. Histone modifications can ultimately turn gene expression levels up or down, affecting an organism's development, function and lifespan. LIN-53 is considered an "epigenetic factor" because by interacting with histones, it can activate and deactivate genes that can result in heritable traits passed to offspring, but without changing the underlying DNA sequence.

Tursun and his colleagues wanted to understand if this epigenetic factor influences how long an organism lives (lifespan), and how long an organism lives in a healthy state (healthspan). They also wanted to learn if lifespan and healthspan are directly related.

Age - Symptoms - Muscle - Loss - Tursun

"Usually when we age, we experience aging symptoms accompanied by muscle loss," Tursun said. "Is this all coincidence or is it...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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