March 31, 2017

A molecular clue to longevity

In budding yeast, accumulation of a certain type of RNA in the nucleus increased life span, offering a new clue to longevity.

Understanding the processes that regulate aging is crucial to potentially increasing longevity and enhancing quality of life.

Using the budding yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae (S. cerevisiae), Christopher Lord, Ph.D., Ophir Ospovat and Susan Wente, Ph.D., demonstrated that accumulation of tRNA (transfer RNA) in the nucleus increased replicative life span. These results were published this month in the journal RNA.

Transport of material between the nucleus and the cytoplasm occurs through nuclear pore complexes. Nup100, a component of these complexes, is required for the nuclear export of specific mature tRNAs. This was determined by showing these tRNAs accumulate in the nuclei of cells lacking the NUP100 gene.

Protein levels of the transcription factor Gcn4, which regulates signaling pathways that impact life span, are also elevated in cells missing Nup100.

Further experiments will be necessary to define how Nup100 regulates tRNA export and determine the role of Gcn4-mediated signaling in life span regulation in S. cerevisiae and higher organisms.

This work was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health (AG047737, GM051219).

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