Imagine controlling age be in our hands. Controlling the life span may be in our hands soon as Japanese scientists claim to have identified genes that are probably responsible for ageing.
A new study provides evidence that ageing works through a special set of genes that everyone has – the rDNA genes.
A team led by Dr Takehiko Kobayashi from the National Institute of Genetics in Mishima, Japan, found that by improving the stability of the rDNA genes, which are usually quite unstable, they could extend the lifespan of baker’s yeast, a model system for studying cell ageing.
“This work is exciting because it shows that rDNA instability is a new factor in ageing,” said Massey University senior lecturer in genetics Dr Austen Ganley.
Researchers carried a study to understand ‘Sir2’ gene age reduction process in yeast. Sir2 genes are potential human anti-ageing genes. They found that resveratrol, a component of red wine, activates them. However, subsequent research has found that resveratrol doesn’t extend lifespan in mammals.
The yeast Sir2 gene controls rDNA stability, but also has many other targets in the cell. The breakthrough came when the scientists found a way to separate Sir2’s effect on the rDNA from its other effects. This allowed them to show that Sir2’s anti-ageing effect comes exclusively through stabilization of the rDNA genes.
Elaborating upon the study, Ganley said, “In humans there are seven Sirtuins (the equivalent of the Sir2 gene), and they all behave very differently to the yeast Sir2 gene. Comparatively, the rDNA genes are very similar between yeast and humans, therefore rDNA gene instability may be the common factor in ageing across life.
The study is significant for the mankind as this may lay the path for scientists to artificially improve rDNA gene stability and hence delay the ageing process in humans too.
The study was published in the journal Current Biology.