A team of researchers have recently discovered that the removal of 238 genes led to a significant increase in the lifespan of yeast cells. The findings, published in Cell Metabolism, might hopefully have important implications on human ageing as well.
The scientists describe their endeavour as providing a broader picture of ageing.
“This study looks at ageing in the context of the whole genome and gives us a more complete picture of what ageing is,” said Brian Kennedy, lead author of the study and president and CEO of the Buck Institute for Research on Ageing in the US. “It also sets up a framework to define the entire network that influences ageing in this organism.”
The findings of the study might have important implications for humans. Were the results reproduced in us, human lifespans might be enhanced like never before.
The team, consisting of researchers from both the Buck Institute and the University of Washington, analysed samples of 4,698 separate yeast strains all having a single gene deleted. They followed the yeast’s development – more specifically, their replicative lifespan – by counting the number of cells in each strain; they recorded how many daughter cells were produced from the mother cells by cell division.
“We had a small needle attached to a microscope, and we used that needle to tease out the daughter cells away from the mother every time it divided and then count how many times the mother cells divides,” said Kennedy. “We had several microscopes running all the time.”
Following the time-consuming process, the researchers ultimately spotted 238 specific genes responsible for ageing in yeast. When these were removed, the lifespan of each strain was boosted.
The results might be extrapolated to us, humans, since we share certain similarities with yeast in terms of the genome.
“Almost half of the genes we found that affect ageing are conserved in mammals,”said Kennedy. “In theory, any of these factors could be therapeutic targets to extend healthspan. What we have to do now is figure out which ones are amenable to targeting.”
Furthermore, the researchers also found that removing the gene named LOS1 caused an increase in the lifespan of the yeast by 60 %. LOS1 is known to be involved in the synthesis of proteins, caloric restriction and DNA damage control.
“Calorie restriction has been known to extend lifespan for a long time,” said Kennedy. “The DNA damage response is linked to ageing as well. LOS1 may be connecting these different processes.”