Reproduction and life span are intertwined

December 17, 2012

The gonad is well known to be important for reproduction but also affects animal life span. Removal of germ cells - the sperm and egg producing cells - increases longevity of the roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans. However, the underlying molecular mechanisms were a mystery. Now scientists at the Cologne-based Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing, have discovered that germ cell removal flips a "molecular switch" that extends the life span by using components of a "developmental clock".

The roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans is a commonly used model organism in the field of ageing research. It develops from an egg to adult through four larval stages. These developmental stages are controlled by a developmental clock. Yidong Shen and colleagues working in the department of Director Adam Antebi used a laser to remove the germ cells. They found that the remaining gonadal cells trigger production of a steroid hormone called dafachronic acid. Dafachronic acid activates so-called microRNAs, which work as tiny molecular switches causing changes in gene expression that promote longevity. Interestingly, this same steroid hormone-microRNA switch was previously shown by Antebi and colleagues to be part of the developmental clock. Thus, the loss of the germ cells ultimately causes the worm to use developmental timers to put in motion a life-prolonging programme.

In uncovering these findings, the Max Planck scientists have added some more pieces to the puzzle of describing and understanding how longevity is regulated. The question now is whether humans also possess a similar microRNA-controlled switch system.
-end-
Yidong Shen, Joshua Wollam, Daniel Magner, Oezlem Karalay, Adam Antebi. A steroid Receptor-microRNA switch regulates life span in response to signals from the gonad.Science 14 December 2012: Vol. 338 no. 6113 pp. 1472-1476 DOI: 10.1126/science.1228967.

Max-Planck-Gesellschaft

Related Ageing Articles from Brightsurf:

Cell ageing can be slowed by oxidants
At high concentrations, reactive oxygen species - known as oxidants - are harmful to cells in all organisms and have been linked to ageing.

Identified a subgroup of stem cells that resists ageing and maintains muscle regeneration
For the first time the researchers have demonstrated in a study in mice that not all muscle stem cells age equally, and have identified a subgroup with greater regenerative capacity which is maintained until geriatric age.

Ultra-processed food consumption is associated with chromosomal changes linked to biological ageing
A new study has shed light on the link between the consumption of ultra-processed foods (UPF) and the shortening of telomeres; sections of chromosomes that can be used as a marker of biological age.

The CNIO pave the way for a future gene therapy to reverse pulmonary fibrosis associated with ageing
''Our results indicate that a new therapy may be developed to prevent the development of pulmonary fibrosis associated with ageing,'' says CNIO's Maria Blasco, principal investigator of the study * Lung tissue of patients with pulmonary fibrosis does not regenerate because the cells involved in lung generation have damaged telomeres, the ends of the chromosomes.

Blood iron levels could be key to slowing ageing, gene study shows
Genes linked to ageing that could help explain why some people age at different rates to others have been identified by scientists.

Circular RNA makes fruit flies live longer
The molecule influences the insulin signalling pathway and thus prolongs life

Age research: A low level of the stress hormone cortisol contributes to the ageing process
Why do we age? What exactly is happening in our bodies?

Otago research reveals how mating influences females' life history and ageing
New University of Otago research provides insight into how males influence their mates' health, growth and fertility.

How to slow down ageing?
Healthy ageing has become one of the priorities of research in Europe.

Newly confirmed biochemical mechanism in cells is key component of the anti-ageing program
Scientists from Russia, Germany and Switzerland now confirmed a mechanism in mouse, bat and naked mole rat cells -- a 'mild depolarization' of the inner mitochondrial membrane -- that is linked to ageing: Mild depolarization regulates the creation of mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (mROS) in cells and is therefore a mechanism of the anti-ageing program.

Read More: Ageing News and Ageing Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.