A quantitative trait locus (QTL) in the nematode C. elegans, "lsq4," was recently implicated by mapping longevity genes. QTLs for lifespan and three stress-resistance traits coincided within a span of <300 kbp, later narrowed to <200 kbp. A single gene in this interval is now shown to modulate all lsq4-associated traits. Full-genome analysis of transcript levels indicates that lsq4 contains a dimorphic gene governing the expression of many sperm-specific genes, suggesting an effect on spermatogenesis. Quantitative analysis of allele-specific transcripts encoded within the lsq4 interval revealed significant, 2- to 15-fold expression differences for 10 of 33 genes. Fourteen "dual-candidate" genes, implicated by both position and expression, were tested for RNA-interference effects on QTL-linked traits. In a strain carrying the shorter-lived allele, knockdown of rec-8 (encoding a meiotic cohesin) reduced its transcripts 4-fold, to a level similar to the longer-lived strain, while extending lifespan 25-26%, whether begun before fertilization or at maturity. The short-lived lsq4 allele also conferred sensitivity to oxidative and thermal stresses, and lower male frequency (reflecting X-chromosome non-disjunction), traits reversed uniquely by rec-8 knockdown. A strain bearing the longer-lived lsq4 allele, differing from the short-lived strain at <0.3% of its genome, derived no lifespan or stress-survival benefit from rec-8 knockdown. We consider two possible explanations: high rec-8 expression may include increased "leaky" expression in mitotic cells, leading to deleterious destabilization of somatic genomes; or REC-8 may act entirely in germ-line meiotic cells to reduce aberrations such as non-disjunction, thereby blunting a stress-resistance response mediated by innate immunity. Replicative lifespan was extended 20% in haploid S. cerevisiae (BY4741) by deletion of REC8, orthologous to nematode rec-8, implying that REC8 disruption of mitotic-cell survival is widespread, exemplifying antagonistic pleiotropy (opposing effects on lifespan vs. reproduction), and/or balancing selection wherein genomic disruption increases genetic variation under harsh conditions.
Age is a major risk factor for many human diseases. Extremely long-lived individuals, such as centenarians, have managed to ward off age-related diseases and serve as human models to search for the genetic factors that influence longevity. The discovery of evolutionarily conserved pathways with major impact on life span in animal models has provided tantalizing opportunities to test the relevance of these pathways for human longevity. Here we specifically focus on the insulin/insulin-like growth factor-1 signaling as a prime candidate pathway. Coupled with the rapid advances in ultra high-throughput sequencing technologies, it is now feasible to comprehensively analyze all possible sequence variants in candidate genes segregating with a longevity phenotype and to investigate the functional consequences of the associated variants. A better understanding of the functional genes that affect healthy longevity in humans may lead to a rational basis for intervention strategies that can delay or prevent age-related diseases.
Dampening of insulin/insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF1) signaling results in the extension of lifespan in invertebrate as well as murine models. The impact of this evolutionarily conserved pathway on the modulation of human lifespan remains unclear. We previously identified two IGF1R mutations (Ala-37-Thr and Arg-407-His) that are enriched in Ashkenazi Jewish centenarians as compared to younger controls and are associated with the reduced activity of the IGF1 receptor as measured in immortalized lymphocytes. To determine whether these human longevity-associated IGF1R mutations affect IGF1 signaling, we engineered mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) expressing the different human IGF1R variants in a mouse Igf1r null background. The results indicate that MEFs expressing the human longevity-associated IGF1R mutations attenuated IGF1 signaling, as demonstrated by significant reduction in phosphorylation of both IGF1R and AKT after IGF1 treatment, in comparison with MEFs expressing the wild-type IGF1R. The impaired IGF1 signaling caused by the IGF1R mutations resulted in the reduced induction of the major IGF1-activated genes in MEFs, including EGR1, mCSF, IL3R?, and TDAG51. Furthermore, the IGF1R mutations caused a delay in cell cycle progression after IGF1 treatment, indicating a dysfunctional physiological response to a cell proliferation signal. These results demonstrate that the human longevity-associated IGF1R variants are reduced-function mutations, implying that dampening of IGF1 signaling may be a longevity mechanism in humans.
Many lifespan-modulating genes are involved in either generation of oxidative substrates and end-products, or their detoxification and removal. Among such metabolites, only lipoperoxides have the ability to produce free-radical chain reactions. For this study, fatty-acid profiles were compared across a panel of C. elegans mutants that span a tenfold range of longevities in a uniform genetic background. Two lipid structural properties correlated extremely well with lifespan in these worms: fatty-acid chain length and susceptibility to oxidation both decreased sharply in the longest-lived mutants (affecting the insulinlike-signaling pathway). This suggested a functional model in which longevity benefits from a reduction in lipid peroxidation substrates, offset by a coordinate decline in fatty-acid chain length to maintain membrane fluidity. This model was tested by disrupting the underlying steps in lipid biosynthesis, using RNAi knockdown to deplete transcripts of genes involved in fatty-acid metabolism. These interventions produced effects on longevity that were fully consistent with the functions and abundances of their products. Most knockdowns also produced concordant effects on survival of hydrogen peroxide stress, which can trigger lipoperoxide chain reactions.
Two age-1 nonsense mutants, truncating the class-I phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase catalytic subunit (PI3K(CS)) before its kinase domain, confer extraordinary longevity and stress-resistance to Caenorhabditis elegans. These traits, unique to second-generation homozygotes, are blunted at the first generation and are largely reversed by additional mutations to DAF-16/FOXO, a transcription factor downstream of AGE-1 in insulin-like signaling. The strong age-1 alleles (mg44, m333) were compared with the weaker hx546 allele on expression microarrays, testing four independent cohorts of each allele. Among 276 genes with significantly differential expression, 92% showed fewer transcripts in adults carrying strong age-1 alleles rather than hx546. This proportion is significantly greater than the slight bias observed when contrasting age-1 alleles to wild-type worms. Thus, transcriptional changes peculiar to nonsense alleles primarily involve either gene silencing or failure of transcriptional activation. A subset of genes responding preferentially to age-1-nonsense alleles was reassessed by real-time polymerase chain reaction, in worms bearing strong or weak age-1 alleles; nearly all of these were significantly more responsive to the age-1(mg44) allele than to age-1(hx546). Additional mutation of daf-16 reverted the majority of altered mg44-F2 expression levels to approximately wild-type values, although a substantial number of genes remained significantly distinct from wild-type, implying that age-1(mg44) modulates transcription through both DAF-16/FOXO-dependent and -independent channels. When age-1-inhibited genes were targeted by RNA interference (RNAi) in wild-type or age-1(hx546) adults, most conferred significant oxidative-stress protection. RNAi constructs targeting two of those genes were shown previously to extend life, and RNAis targeting five novel genes were found here to increase lifespan. PI3K-null mutants may thus implicate novel mechanisms of life extension.
Long-lived mutants provide unique insights into the genetic factors that limit lifespan in wild-type animals. Most mutants and RNA interference targets found to extend life, typically by 1.5- to 2.5-fold, were discovered in C. elegans. Several longevity-assurance pathways are conserved across widely divergent taxa, indicating that mechanisms of lifespan regulation evolved several hundred million years ago. Strong mutations to the C. elegans gene encoding AGE-1/PI3KCS achieve unprecedented longevity by orchestrating the modulation (predominantly silencing) of multiple signaling pathways. This is evident in a profound attenuation of total kinase activity, leading to reduced phosphoprotein content. Mutations to the gene encoding the catalytic subunit of PI3K (phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase) have the potential to modulate all enzymes that depend on its product, PIP3, for membrane tethering or activation by other kinases. Remarkably, strong mutants inactivating PI3K also silence multiple signaling pathways at the transcript level, partially but not entirely mediated by the DAF-16/FOXO transcription factor. Mammals have a relatively large proportion of somatic cells, and survival depends on their replication, whereas somatic cell divisions in nematodes are limited to development and reproductive tissues. Thus, translation of longevity gains from nematodes to mammals requires disentangling the downstream consequences of signaling mutations, to avoid their deleterious consequences.
Insulin/IGF-1 signaling (IIS) regulates development and metabolism, and modulates aging, of Caenorhabditis elegans. In nematodes, as in mammals, IIS is understood to operate through a kinase-phosphorylation cascade that inactivates the DAF-16/FOXO transcription factor. Situated at the center of this pathway, phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) phosphorylates PIP(2) to form PIP(3), a phospholipid required for membrane tethering and activation of many signaling molecules. Nonsense mutants of age-1, the nematode gene encoding the class-I catalytic subunit of PI3K, produce only a truncated protein lacking the kinase domain, and yet confer 10-fold greater longevity on second-generation (F2) homozygotes, and comparable gains in stress resistance. Their F1 parents, like weaker age-1 mutants, are far less robust-implying that maternally contributed trace amounts of PI3K activity or of PIP(3) block the extreme age-1 phenotypes. We find that F2-mutant adults have <10% of wild-type kinase activity in vitro and <60% of normal phosphoprotein levels in vivo. Inactivation of PI3K not only disrupts PIP(3)-dependent kinase signaling, but surprisingly also attenuates transcripts of numerous IIS components, even upstream of PI3K, and those of signaling molecules that cross-talk with IIS. The age-1(mg44) nonsense mutation results, in F2 adults, in changes to kinase profiles and to expression levels of multiple transcripts that distinguish this mutant from F1 age-1 homozygotes, a weaker age-1 mutant, or wild-type adults. Most but not all of those changes are reversed by a second mutation to daf-16, implicating both DAF-16/ FOXO-dependent and -independent mechanisms. RNAi, silencing genes that are downregulated in long-lived worms, improves oxidative-stress resistance of wild-type adults. It is therefore plausible that attenuation of those genes in age-1(mg44)-F2 adults contributes to their exceptional survival. IIS in nematodes (and presumably in other species) thus involves transcriptional as well as kinase regulation in a positive-feedback circuit, favoring either survival or reproduction. Hyperlongevity of strong age-1(mg44) mutants may result from their inability to reset this molecular switch to the reproductive mode.
Abstract Septins are a large family of GTP-binding proteins abnormally expressed in many solid tumors. Septin 9 (SEPT9) in particular has been found overexpressed in diverse human tumors including breast, head and neck, ovarian, endometrial, kidney, and pancreatic cancer. While we previously reported SEPT9 amplification in breast cancer, we now show specifically that high grade breast carcinomas, the subtype with worst clinical outcome, exhibit a significant increase in SEPT9 copy number when compared to other tumor grades. We also present, for the first time, a sensitive and quantitative measure of seven (SEPT9_v1 through SEPT9_v7) isoform variant mRNA levels in mammary epithelial cells. SEPT9_v1, SEPT9_v3, SEPT9_v6 and SEPT9_v7 isoforms were expressed at the highest levels followed by SEPT9_v2 and SEPT9_v5, whereas SEPT9_v4 was almost undetectable. While most of the isoforms were upregulated in primary tumor tissues relative to the patientmatched peritumoral tissues, SEPT9_v4 remained the lowest expressing isoform. This comprehensive analysis of SEPT9 provides substantial evidence for increased SEPT9 expression as consequence of genomic amplification, and is the first study to profile SEPT9_v1 through SEPT9_v7 isoform-specific mRNA expression in tumor and non-tumor tissues from patients with breast cancer.
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