The secret of longevity is revealed. It's all about gene expression, and here's how you can influence it

Natural selection has created mammals that age in completely different ways. For example, if we take naked

diggers and shrews, the former can live up to41 years old, and this is 20 times more than rodents of a similar size, for example, the same shrews. To explain this "inconsistency", scientists conducted a special study. According to new work by biologists from the University of Rochester, USA, it's all about the mechanisms that regulate gene expression.

Comparison of longevity genes

Scientists have studied genes associated withlifespan, and found interesting specific characteristics. It turned out that two regulatory systems that control gene expression - circadian and pluripotent networks - are crucial for longevity.

Researchers compared gene expression patternsin 26 species of mammals with different maximum life spans from two years (shrews) to 41 years (naked mole rats). They identified thousands of genes associated with the maximum lifespan of a species that were positively or negatively correlated with longevity.

Naked digger and shrew. Hi-tech collage, photo source: flickr

It turned out that in long-lived species, as a rule,low expression of genes involved in energy metabolism and inflammation. At the same time, they have a high expression of genes involved in DNA repair, RNA transport, and organization of the cell skeleton (or microtubules).

Previous research by Vera Gorbunova and AndreySeluanov, who participated in the new study, showed that features such as more efficient DNA repair and a weaker inflammatory response are characteristic of long-lived mammals. Accordingly, short-lived species that tended to have high expression of genes involved in energy metabolism and inflammation, and low expression of genes involved in DNA repair, RNA transport, and microtubule organization.

Two pillars of longevity

When the researchers analyzed the mechanisms,regulating the expression of these genes, they found that two main systems are involved. Short lifespan genes involved in energy metabolism and inflammation are controlled by circadian networks. That is, their expression is limited to a certain time of day. Accordingly, this will help limit overall gene expression in long-lived species. As a result, scientists will be able to control the genes for a short lifespan.

Comparing gene expression patterns in 26 species withdifferent lifespans, Rochester biologists Vera Gorbunova and Andrey Seluanov found that the characteristics of various genes are controlled by circadian or pluripotent networks.
University of Rochester illustration / Julia Joshp

“We must maintain healthy sleep patterns andavoid exposure to light at night, as this can increase the expression of genes that negatively affect lifespan,” explains Gorbunova in a press release for the study.

On the other hand, genes of long durationlife - involved in DNA repair, RNA transport and microtubules - are controlled by the so-called pluripotency network. It is involved in the reprogramming of somatic cells - any cells that are not reproductive - into embryonic ones. They are much more easily rejuvenated and regenerated by repackaging DNA that gets disorganized with age.

“It turned out that evolution activated the pluripotency network to increase lifespan,” the scientists emphasize.

What's the bottom line?

Thus, the network of pluripotency and its relation to“good” lifespan genes turned out to be “an important discovery for understanding how longevity develops,” Andrey Seluanov concludes. Also, the new work will help in the development of progressive methods of combating aging. It is planned that they will activate key genes for long lifespan. In addition, the medicine of the future will focus on reducing the expression of negative genes that reduce life expectancy.

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