Some highlights of research on aging with invertebrates, 2009
This annual review focuses on invertebrate model organisms, which shed light on new mechanisms in aging and provide excellent systems for both genome-wide and in-depth analysis. This year, protein interaction networks have been used in a new bioinformatic approach to identify novel genes that extend replicative lifespan in yeast. In an extended approach, using a new, human protein interaction network, information from the invertebrates was used to identify new, candidate genes for lifespan extension and their orthologues were validated in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. Chemosensation of diffusible substances from bacteria has been shown to limit lifespan in C. elegans, while a systematic study of the different methods used to implement dietary restriction in the worm has shown that they involve mechanisms that are partially distinct and partially overlapping, providing important clarification for addressing whether or not they are conserved in other organisms. A new theoretical model for the evolution of rejuvenating cell division has shown that asymmetrical division for either cell size or for damaged cell constituents results in increased fitness for most realistic levels of cellular protein damage. Work on aging-related disease has both refined our understanding of the mechanisms underlying one route to the development of Parkinson’s disease and has revealed that in worms, as in mice, dietary restriction is protective against cellular proteotoxicity. Two systematic studies genetically manipulating the superoxide dismutases of C. elegans support the idea that damage from superoxide plays little or no role in aging in this organism, and have prompted discussion of other kinds of damage and other kinds of mechanisms for producing aging-related decline in function.
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