Researchers are one step closer to understanding how reducing food intake can increase lifespan in nematode worms with the discovery of a gene that is essential for this type of ageing.
Dietary restriction is connected with increased lifespan in a wide variety of animals, including mice, fruitflies and worms. In a paper published online in Nature, Andrew Dillin and colleagues show that pha-4, a gene that plays an essential part in embryonic development of the worm foregut, has a newly discovered, adult-specific function - increased activity of the gene is associated with diet-restricted longevity in worms.
pha-4 shares a similar sequence with the genes encoding the mammalian family of Foxa transcription factors, which play important parts during development and act later in life to regulate glucagons and glucose levels, particularly in response to fasting. So when nutrient signalling is low, PHA-4/Foxa may mediate glucagon levels or other changes in hormones ultimately able to regulate the ageing process.
Andrew Dillin (The Salk Institute, La Jolla, CA, USA)
Abstract available online.
(C) Nature press release.
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