The retrograde response was discovered in Saccharomyces cerevisiae as a signaling pathway from the mitochondrion to the nucleus that triggers an array of gene regulatory changes in the latter. The activation of the retrograde response compensates for the deficits associated with aging, and thus it extends yeast replicative life span. The retrograde response is activated by the progressive decline in mitochondrial membrane potential during aging that is the result of increasing mitochondrial dysfunction. The ensuing metabolic adaptations and stress resistance can only delay the inevitable demise of the yeast cell. The retrograde response is embedded in a network of signal transduction pathways that impinge upon virtually every aspect of cell physiology. Thus, its manifestations are complicated. Many of these pathways have been implicated in life span regulation quite independently of the retrograde response. Together, they operate in a delicate balance in promoting longevity. The retrograde response is closely aligned with cell quality control, often performing when quality control is not sufficient to assure longevity. Among the key pathways related to this aspect of retrograde signaling are target of rapamycin and ceramide signaling. The retrograde response can also be found in other organisms, including Caenorhabditis elegans, Drosophila melanogaster, mouse, and human, where it exhibits an ever-increasing complexity that may be corralled by the transcription factor NF?B. The retrograde response may have evolved as a cytoprotective mechanism that senses and defends the organism from pathogens and environmental toxins.
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-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of vision loss in developed countries. While linked to genetic polymorphisms in the complement pathway, there are many individuals with high risk alleles that do not develop AMD, suggesting that other 'modifiers' may be involved. Mitochondrial (mt) haplogroups, defined by accumulations of specific mtDNA single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) which represent population origins, may be one such modifier. J haplogroup has been associated with high risk for AMD while the H haplogroup is protective. It has been difficult to assign biological consequences for haplogroups so we created human ARPE-19 cybrids (cytoplasmic hybrids), which have identical nuclei but mitochondria of either J or H haplogroups, to investigate their effects upon bioenergetics and molecular pathways. J cybrids have altered bioenergetic profiles compared with H cybrids. Q-PCR analyses show significantly lower expression levels for seven respiratory complex genes encoded by mtDNA. J and H cybrids have significantly altered expression of eight nuclear genes of the alternative complement, inflammation and apoptosis pathways. Sequencing of the entire mtDNA was carried out for all the cybrids to identify haplogroup and non-haplogroup defining SNPs. mtDNA can mediate cellular bioenergetics and expression levels of nuclear genes related to complement, inflammation and apoptosis. Sequencing data suggest that observed effects are not due to rare mtDNA variants but rather the combination of SNPs representing the J versus H haplogroups. These findings represent a paradigm shift in our concepts of mt-nuclear interactions.
Mutants of tumor suppressor p53 not only lose the activity in genome stabilizing and in tumor suppression, but also exhibit oncogenic function in cancer cells. Most efforts in restoring p53 biological activity focus on either altering mutant-protein conformation or introducing an exogenous p53 gene into cells to eliminate p53-mutant cancer cells. Being different from these, we report that ceramide can restore the expression of wild-type p53 and induce p53-dependent apoptosis in deletion-mutant cancer cells. We show that endogenous long-carbon chain ceramide species (C16- to C24-ceramides) and exogenous C6-ceramide, rather than other sphingolipids, restore wild-type mRNA (intact exon-5), phosphorylated protein (Ser15 in exon-5) of p53, and p53-responsive proteins, including p21 and Bax, in ovarian cancer cells, which predominantly express a deleted exon-5 of p53 mutant before treatments. Consequently, the restored p53 sensitizes these p53-mutant cancer cells to DNA damage-induced growth arrest and apoptosis. Furthermore, we elucidate that ceramide activates protein phosphatase-1, and then the dephosphorylated serine/arginine-rich splicing-factor 1 (SRSF1) is translocated to the nucleus, thus promoting pre-mRNA splicing preferentially to wild-type p53 expression. These findings disclose an unrecognized mechanism that pre-mRNA splicing dysfunction can result in p53 deletion-mutants. Ceramide through SRSF1 restores wild-type p53 expression versus deletion-mutant and leads cancer cells to apoptosis. This suggests that heterozygous deletion-mutants of p53 can be restored in posttranscriptional level by using epigenetic approaches.
It has been recognized that cells do not respond equally to ultraviolet (UV) radiation but it is not clear whether this is due to genetic, biochemical or structural differences of the cells. We have a novel cybrid (cytoplasmic hybrids) model that allows us to analyze the contribution of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) to cellular response after exposure to sub-lethal dose of UV. mtDNA can be classified into haplogroups as defined by accumulations of specific single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). Recent studies have shown that J haplogroup is high risk for age-related macular degeneration while the H haplogroup is protective. This study investigates gene expression responses in J cybrids versus H cybrids after exposure to sub-lethal doses of UV-radiation.
Previously, we showed that FI34, a frailty index based on 34 health and function ability variables, is heritable and a reliable phenotypic indicator of healthy aging. We have now examined the relationship between major components of energy expenditure and the FI34 in participants of the Louisiana Healthy Aging Study. Resting metabolic rate was associated with FI34, even after adjustment for fat-free mass, fat mass, age, sex, thyroid hormones, and insulin-like growth factor 1 levels, in multiple regression analyses. In contrast, there was no association between total daily energy expenditure and FI34. Circulating creatine phosphokinase, a clinical marker of muscle damage, was also significantly associated with FI34. However, these associations of resting metabolic rate with FI34 were restricted to the oldest old (?90 years) and absent in younger age groups. In oldest old men, the association of FI34 with creatine phosphokinase persisted, whereas in the oldest old women, only the association with resting metabolic rate pertained with the appearance of an effect of body size and composition. These results point toward an increasing metabolic burden for the maintenance of homeodynamics as health declines in nonagenarians, and this has implications for contraction of metabolic reserve that may potentially accelerate the path to disability.
Objectives: The purpose of this study was to assess the relationship between apolipoprotein E (APOE), life events and engagement, and subjective well-being (as measured by positive and negative affect) among centenarians. Based on the life stress paradigm, we predicted that higher levels of stress would allow APOE to influence positive and negative affect. Method: 196 centenarians and near-centenarians (98 years and older) of the Georgia Centenarian Study participated in this research. The APOE, positive and negative affect, the number of recent (last 2 years) and lifelong (more than 20 years prior to testing) events, as well as a number of life engagement tasks were assessed. Results: Results suggested that centenarians carrying the APOE ?4 allele rated lower in positive affect, the number of lifelong events, and in engaged lifestyle, when compared to centenarians without the APOE ?4 allele (t = 3.43, p < .01; t = 3.19, p < .01; and t = 2.33, p < .05, respectively). Blockwise multiple regressions indicated that the APOE ?4 predicted positive but not negative affect after controlling for demographics. Gene-environment interactions were obtained for the APOE ?4 and lifelong events, suggesting that carriers of the APOE ?4 allele had higher scores of negative affect after having experienced more events, whereas noncarriers had reduced negative affect levels after having experienced more events. Conclusion: APOE ?4 is directly related to positive affect and is related to negative affect in interaction with life events.
The geographic origins of populations can be identified by their maternally inherited mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) haplogroups. This study compared human cybrids (cytoplasmic hybrids), which are cell lines with identical nuclei but mitochondria from different individuals with mtDNA from either the H haplogroup or L haplogroup backgrounds. The most common European haplogroup is H while individuals of maternal African origin are of the L haplogroup. Despite lower mtDNA copy numbers, L cybrids had higher expression levels for nine mtDNA-encoded respiratory complex genes, decreased ATP (adenosine triphosphate) turnover rates and lower levels of reactive oxygen species production, parameters which are consistent with more efficient oxidative phosphorylation. Surprisingly, GeneChip arrays showed that the L and H cybrids had major differences in expression of genes of the canonical complement system (5 genes), dermatan/chondroitin sulfate biosynthesis (5 genes) and CCR3 (chemokine, CC motif, receptor 3) signaling (9 genes). Quantitative nuclear gene expression studies confirmed that L cybrids had (a) lower expression levels of complement pathway and innate immunity genes and (b) increased levels of inflammation-related signaling genes, which are critical in human diseases. Our data support the hypothesis that mtDNA haplogroups representing populations from different geographic origins may play a role in differential susceptibilities to diseases.
Mitochondrial dysfunction is associated with the development and progression of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Recent studies using populations from the United States and Australia have demonstrated that AMD is associated with mitochondrial (mt) DNA haplogroups (as defined by combinations of mtDNA polymorphisms) that represent Northern European Caucasians. The aim of this study was to use the cytoplasmic hybrid (cybrid) model to investigate the molecular and biological functional consequences that occur when comparing the mtDNA H haplogroup (protective for AMD) versus J haplogroup (high risk for AMD).
The authors examined the effects of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita (HKR) on cognitive and psychosocial functioning in a lifespan sample of adults 6 to 14 months after the storms. Participants were recruited from the Louisiana Healthy Aging Study (LHAS). Most were assessed during the immediate impact period and retested for this study. Analyses of pre-and post-disaster cognitive data confirmed that storm-related decrements in working memory for middle-aged and older adults observed in the immediate impact period had returned to pre-hurricane levels in the post-disaster recovery period. Middle-aged adults reported more storm-related stressors and greater levels of stress than the two older groups at both waves of testing. These results are consistent with a burden perspective on post-disaster psychological reactions.
ABSTRACT We examined the effect of a semantic orienting task during encoding on free recall and recognition of simple line drawings and matching words in middle-aged (44-59 years), older (60-89 years), and oldest-old (90+ years) adults. Participants studied line drawings and matching words presented in blocked order. Half of the participants were given a semantic orienting task and the other half received standard intentional learning instructions. Results confirmed that the pictorial superiority effect was greater in magnitude following semantic encoding compared to the control condition. Analyses of clustering in free recall revealed that oldest-old adults encoding and retrieval strategies were generally similar to the two younger groups. Self-reported strategy use was less frequent among the oldest-old adults. These data strongly suggest that semantic elaboration is an effective compensatory mechanism underlying preserved episodic memory performance that persists well into the ninth decade of life.
In the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, loss of mitochondrial DNA (rho(0)) can induce the retrograde response under appropriate conditions, resulting in increased replicative lifespan (RLS). Although the retrograde pathway has been extensively elaborated, the nature of the mitochondrial signal triggering this response has not been clear. Mitochondrial membrane potential (MMP) was severely reduced in rho(0) compared to rho(+) cells, and RLS was concomitantly extended. To examine the role of MMP in the retrograde response, MMP was increased in the rho(0) strain by introducing a mutation in the ATP1 gene, and it was decreased in rho(+) cells by deletion of COX4. The ATP1-111 mutation in rho(0) cells partially restored the MMP and reduced mean RLS to that of rho(+) cells. COX4 deletion decreased MMP in rho(+) cells to a value intermediate between rho(+) and rho(0) cells and similarly increased RLS. The increase in expression of CIT2, the diagnostic gene for the retrograde response, seen in rho(0) cells, was substantially suppressed in the presence of the ATP1-111 mutation. In contrast, CIT2 expression increased in rho(+) cells on deletion of COX4. Activation of the retrograde response results in the translocation of the transcription factor Rtg3 from the cytoplasm to the nucleus. Rtg3-GFP translocation to the nucleus was directly observed in rho(0) and rho(+)cox4? cells, but it was blunted in rho(0) cells with the ATP1-111 mutation. We conclude that a decrease in MMP is the signal that initiates the retrograde response and leads to increased RLS.
Leukocyte telomere length is widely considered a biomarker of human age and in many studies indicative of health or disease. We have obtained quantitative estimates of telomere length from blood leukocytes in a population sample, confirming results of previous studies that telomere length significantly decreases with age. Telomere length was also positively associated with several measures of healthy aging, but this relationship was dependent on age. We screened two genes known to be involved in telomere maintenance for association with the age-related decline in telomere length observed in our population to identify candidate longevity-associated genes. A single-nucleotide polymorphism located in the SIRT1 gene and another in the 3 flanking region of XRCC6 had significant effects on telomere length. At each bi-allelic locus, the minor variant was associated with longer telomeres, though the mode of inheritance fitting best differed between the two genes. No statistical interaction was detected for telomere length between the SIRT1 and XRCC6 variants or between these polymorphisms and age. The SIRT1 locus was significantly associated with longevity (P < 0.003). The frequency of the minor allele was higher in long-lived cases than in young controls, which coincides with the protective role of the minor variant for telomere length. In contrast, the XRCC6 variant was not associated with longevity. Furthermore, it did not affect the association of SIRT1 with exceptional survival. The association of the same variant of SIRT1 with longevity was near significant (P < 0.07) in a second population. These results suggest a potential role of SIRT1 in linking telomere length and longevity. Given the differences between this gene and XRCC6, they point to the distinct impact that alternate pathways of telomere maintenance may have on aging and exceptional survival.
In this study, we characterized ceramide synthase (CerS) of the protozoan parasite Trypanosoma cruzi at the molecular and functional levels. TcCerS activity was detected initially in a cell-free system using the microsomal fraction of epimastigote forms of T. cruzi, [(3)H]dihydrosphingosine or [(3)H]sphingosine, and fatty acids or acyl-CoA derivatives as acceptor or donor substrates, respectively. TcCerS utilizes both sphingoid long-chain bases, and its activity is exclusively dependent on acyl-CoAs, with palmitoyl-CoA being preferred. In addition, Fumonisin B(1), a broad and well-known acyl-CoA-dependent CerS inhibitor, blocked the parasites CerS activity. However, unlike observations in fungi, the CerS inhibitors Australifungin and Fumonisin B(1) did not affect the proliferation of epimastigotes in culture, even after exposure to high concentrations or after extended periods of treatment. A search of the parasite genome with the conserved Lag1 motif from Lag1p, the yeast acyl-CoA-dependent CerS, identified a T. cruzi candidate gene (TcCERS1) that putatively encodes the parasites CerS activity. The TcCERS1 gene was able to functionally complement the lethality of a lag1? lac1? double deletion yeast mutant in which the acyl-CoA-dependent CerS is not detectable. The complemented strain was capable of synthesizing normal inositol-containing sphingolipids and is 10 times more sensitive to Fumonisin B(1) than the parental strain.
In the present study, we examined adult age differences in short-term and working memory performance in middle-aged (45-64 years), young-old (65-74 years), old-old (75-89 years), and oldest-old adults (90 years and over) in the Louisiana Healthy Aging Study. Previous research suggests that measures of working memory are more sensitive to age effects than are simple tests of short-term memory Bopp and Verhaeghen (Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences 60:223-233, 2005), Myerson, Emery, White, and Hale, (Aging, Neuropsychology, and Cognition 10:20-27, 2003). To test this hypothesis, we examined output serial position curves of recall data from three span tasks: forward and backward digit span and size judgment span. Participants recall patterns in the size judgment span task revealed that the two oldest groups of adults showed the largest decreases in recall performance across output serial positions, but did not differ significantly from each other. Correlation analyses indicated the strongest negative correlation with age occurred with the size judgment span task. Implications of these findings for understanding strategic processing abilities in late life are discussed.
Social support has been shown to influence health outcomes in later life. In this study, we focus on social engagement as an umbrella construct that covers select social behaviors in a lifespan sample that included oldest-old adults, a segment of the adult population for whom very little data currently exist. We examined relationships among social engagement, positive health behaviors, and physical health to provide new evidence that addresses gaps in the extant literature concerning social engagement and healthy aging in very old adults. Participants were younger (21-59 years), older (60-89 years), and oldest-old (90-97 years) adults (N = 364) in the Louisiana Healthy Aging Study (LHAS). Linear regression analyses indicated that age, gender, and hours spent outside of the house were significantly associated with self-reported health. The number of clubs and hours outside of home were more important factors in the analyses of objective health status than positive health behaviors, after considering age group and education level. These data strongly suggest that social engagement remains an important determinant of physical health into very late adulthood. The discussion focuses on practical applications of these results including social support interventions to maintain or improve late life health.
Tumor suppressor p53 plays an essential role in protecting cells from malignant transformation by inducing cell-cycle arrest and apoptosis. Mutant p53 that is detected in more than 50% of cases of cancers loses its role in suppression of tumors but gains in oncogenic function. Strategies to convert mutant p53 into wild-type p53 have been suggested for cancer prevention and treatment, but they face a variety of challenges. Here, we report an alternative approach that involves suppression of glucosylceramide synthase (GCS), an enzyme that glycosylates ceramide and blunts its proapoptotic activity in cancer cells. Human ovarian cancer cells expressing mutant p53 displayed resistance to apoptosis induced by DNA damage. We found that GCS silencing sensitized these mutant p53 cells to doxorubicin but did not affect the sensitivity of cells with wild-type p53. GCS silencing increased the levels of phosphorylated p53 and p53-responsive genes, including p21(Waf1/Cip1), Bax, and Puma, consistent with a redirection of the mutant p53 cells to apoptosis. Reactivated p53-dependent apoptosis was similarly verified in p53-mutant tumors where GCS was silenced. Inhibition of ceramide synthase with fumonisin B1 prevented p53 reactivation induced by GCS silencing, whereas addition of exogenous C6-ceramide reactivated p53 function in p53-mutant cells. Our findings indicate that restoring active ceramide to cells can resuscitate wild-type p53 function in p53-mutant cells, offering preclinical support for a novel type of mechanism-based therapy in the many human cancers harboring p53 mutations.
The mitochondrial retrograde response has been extensively described in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, where it has been found to extend life span during times of mitochondrial dysfunction, damage or low nutrient levels. In yeast, the retrograde response genes (RTG) convey these stress responses to the nucleus to change the gene expression adaptively. Similarly, most classes of higher organisms have been shown to have some version of a central stress-mediating transcription factor, NF-?B. There have been several modifications along the phylogenetic tree as NF-?B has taken a larger role in managing cellular stresses. Here, we review similarities and differences in mechanisms and pathways between RTG genes in yeast and NF-?B as seen in more complex organisms. We perform a structural homology search and reveal similarities of Rtg proteins with eukaryotic transcription factors involved in development and metabolism. NF-?B shows more sophisticated functions when compared to RTG genes including participation in immune responses and induction of apoptosis under high levels of ROS-induced mitochondrial and nuclear DNA damage. Involvement of NF-?B in chromosomal stability, coregulation of mitochondrial respiration, and cross talk with the TOR (target of rapamycin) pathway points to a conserved mechanism also found in yeast.
We examined health-related quality of life in adults in the Louisiana Health Aging Study (LHAS) after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita (HK/R) that made landfall on the U.S. Gulf Coast region in 2005. Analyses of pre- and post-disaster SF-36 scores yielded changes in physical function and bodily pain. Mental health scores were lower for women than men. Gender differences were observed in religious beliefs and religious coping, favoring women. Religious beliefs and religious coping were negatively correlated with physical function, implying that stronger reliance on religiosity as a coping mechanism may be more likely among those who are less physically capable.
This study examined the impact of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita on cognitive and psychosocial functioning among middle-aged (45-64 years), older (65-89 years) and oldest-old adults (90 years and over) in the Louisiana Healthy Aging Study (LHAS). Analyses of pre- and post-disaster cognitive data showed storm-related decrements in working memory for the middle-aged and older adults, but not for the oldest-old adults. Regression analyses confirmed that measures of social engagement and storm-related disruption significantly predicted pre- to post-disaster differences in short-term and working memory performance for the middle-aged and older adults only. These results are consistent with a burden perspective on post-disaster psychological reactions. Implications for current views of disaster reactions are discussed.
The search for longevity-determining genes in human has largely neglected the operation of genetic interactions. We have identified a novel combination of common variants of three genes that has a marked association with human lifespan and healthy aging. Subjects were recruited and stratified according to their genetically inferred ethnic affiliation to account for population structure. Haplotype analysis was performed in three candidate genes, and the haplotype combinations were tested for association with exceptional longevity. An HRAS1 haplotype enhanced the effect of an APOE haplotype on exceptional survival, and a LASS1 haplotype further augmented its magnitude. These results were replicated in a second population. A profile of healthy aging was developed using a deficit accumulation index, which showed that this combination of gene variants is associated with healthy aging. The variation in LASS1 is functional, causing enhanced expression of the gene, and it contributes to healthy aging and greater survival in the tenth decade of life. Thus, rare gene variants need not be invoked to explain complex traits such as aging; instead rare congruence of common gene variants readily fulfills this role. The interaction between the three genes described here suggests new models for cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying exceptional survival and healthy aging that involve lipotoxicity.
Drug resistance is the outcome of multiple-gene interactions in cancer cells under stress of anticancer agents. MDR1 overexpression is most commonly detected in drug-resistant cancers and accompanied with other gene alterations including enhanced glucosylceramide synthase (GCS). MDR1 encodes for P-glycoprotein that extrudes anticancer drugs. Polymorphisms of MDR1 disrupt the effects of P-glycoprotein antagonists and limit the success of drug resistance reversal in clinical trials. GCS converts ceramide to glucosylceramide, reducing the impact of ceramide-induced apoptosis and increasing glycosphingolipid (GSL) synthesis. Understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying MDR1 overexpression and how it interacts with GCS may find effective approaches to reverse drug resistance.
Used a population-based sample (Georgia Centenarian Study, GCS), to determine proportions of centenarians reaching 100 years as (1) survivors (43%) of chronic diseases first experienced between 0-80 years of age, (2) delayers (36%) with chronic diseases first experienced between 80-98 years of age, or (3) escapers (17%) with chronic diseases only at 98 years of age or older. Diseases fall into two morbidity profiles of 11 chronic diseases; one including cardiovascular disease, cancer, anemia, and osteoporosis, and another including dementia. Centenarians at risk for cancer in their lifetime tended to be escapers (73%), while those at risk for cardiovascular disease tended to be survivors (24%), delayers (39%), or escapers (32%). Approximately half (43%) of the centenarians did not experience dementia. Psychiatric disorders were positively associated with dementia, but prevalence of depression, anxiety, and psychoses did not differ significantly between centenarians and an octogenarian control group. However, centenarians were higher on the Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS) than octogenarians. Consistent with our model of developmental adaptation in aging, distal life events contribute to predicting survivorship outcome in which health status as survivor, delayer, or escaper appears as adaptation variables late in life.
Genetic analyses aimed at identification of the pathways and downstream effectors of calorie restriction (CR) in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae suggest the importance of central metabolism for the extension of replicative life span by CR. However, the limited gene expression studies to date are not informative, because they have been conducted using cells grown in batch culture which markedly departs from the conditions under which yeasts are grown during life span determinations. In this study, we have examined the gene expression changes that occur during either glucose limitation or elimination of nonessential-amino acids, both of which enhance yeast longevity, culturing cells in a chemostat at equilibrium, which closely mimics conditions they encounter during life span determinations. Expression of 59 genes was examined quantitatively by real-time, reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR), and the physiological state of the cultures was monitored. Extensive gene expression changes were detected, some of which were common to both CR regimes. The most striking of these was the induction of tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle and retrograde response target genes, which appears to be at least partially due to the up-regulation of the HAP4 gene. These gene regulatory events portend an increase in the generation of biosynthetic intermediates necessary for the production of daughter cells, which is the measure of yeast replicative life span.
Glucosylceramide synthase (GCS or GlcT-1), converting ceramide to glucosylceramide, is a key enzyme for the synthesis of glycosphingolipids. Due to its diverse roles in physiology and diseases, GCS may be a disease marker and drug target. Current assays for enzymes including GCS are based on reactions conducted in a test tube using enzyme preparations. Measurement of enzyme activity in laboratory-made conditions cannot directly evaluate the role of GCS in cells. Here, we introduce a new approach to determine GCS cellular activity using fluorescent NBD C6-ceramide in vivo. Cellular GCS transfers UDP-glucose to NBD C6-ceramide and produces NBD C6-glucosylceramide. C6-glucosylceramide is then separated from C6-ceramide by thin-layer chromatography and both are then quantitated by spectrophotometer. This cell-based method is able to quantitate glucosylceramide in pmol range, produced by approximately 50,000 cells or 1.0 mg tissue. This method has been used successfully to evaluate the degrees of GCS enzyme in cells and in tumors subjected to gene manipulation and chemical inhibition. These data indicate that this cell-based fluorescent method is direct, reproducible, and simple for assessing ceramide glycosylation. It is applicable to validate GCS activity in drug-resistant cancers and in other disorders.
Research into the age-associated decline in the immune system has focused on the factors that contribute to the accumulation of senescent CD8 T cells. Less attention has been paid to the non-immune factors that may maintain the pool of naïve CD8 T cells. Here, we analyzed the status of the naïve CD8 T-cell population in healthy nonagenarians (>or=90-year-old), old (60-79-year-old), and young (20-34-year-old) subjects. Naïve CD8 T cells were defined as CD28(+)CD95(-) as this phenotype showed a strong co-expression of the CD45RA(+), CD45RO(-), and CD127(+) phenotypes. Although there was an age-associated decline in the percentage of CD28(+)CD95(-) CD8 T cells, the healthy nonagenarians maintained a pool of naïve CD28(+)CD95(-) cells that contained T-cell receptor excision circles (TREC)(+) cells. The percentages of naïve CD28(+)CD95(-) CD8 T cells in the nonagenarians correlated with the sera levels of insulin-like growth factor binding protein 3 (IGFBP3) and leptin. Higher levels of triiodothyronine (T3) negatively correlated with the accumulation of TREC(-)CD28(-)CD95(+) CD8 T cells from nonagenarians. These results suggest a model in which IGFBP3, leptin and T3 act as non-immune factors to maintain a larger pool of naïve CD8 T cells in healthy nonagenarians.
Enhanced ceramide glycosylation catalyzed by glucosylceramide synthase (GCS) limits therapeutic efficiencies of antineoplastic agents including doxorubicin in drug-resistant cancer cells. Aimed to determine the role of GCS in tumor response to chemotherapy, a new mixed-backbone oligonucleotide (MBO-asGCS) with higher stability and efficiency has been generated to silence human GCS gene. MBO-asGCS was taken up efficiently in both drug-sensitive and drug-resistant cells, but it selectively suppressed GCS overexpression, and sensitized drug-resistant cells. MBO-asGCS increased doxorubicin sensitivity by 83-fold in human NCI/ADR-RES, and 43-fold in murine EMT6/AR1 breast cancer cells, respectively. In tumor-bearing mice, MBO-asGCS treatment dramatically inhibited the growth of multidrug-resistant NCI/ADR-RE tumors, decreasing tumor volume to 37%, as compared with scrambled control. Furthermore, MBO-asGCS sensitized multidrug-resistant tumors to chemotherapy, increasing doxorubicin efficiency greater than 2-fold. The sensitization effects of MBO-asGCS relied on the decreases of gene expression and enzyme activity of GCS, and on the increases of C(18)-ceramide and of caspase-executed apoptosis. MBO-asGCS was accumulation in tumor xenografts was greater in other tissues, excepting liver and kidneys; but MBO-asGCS did not exert significant toxic effects on liver and kidneys. This study, for the first time in vivo, has demonstrated that GCS is a promising therapeutic target for cancer drug resistance, and MBO-asGCS has the potential to be developed as an antineoplastic agent.
This study assessed cardiovascular disease risk factors in three groups of human subjects aged 20-34 [young, 20 male (M)/33 female (F)], 60-74 (aged, 29M/29F), and > 90 years (nonagenarian, 47M/50F). Components of the metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, and markers of inflammation and oxidative stress were assessed. Nonagenarians weighed less than the two other groups (P < 0.001); however, there was no difference in percent fat among the three groups. Aged individuals had the highest prevalence of the metabolic syndrome (P < 0.001) according to the Adult Treatment Panel III classification. Both fibrinogen and homocysteine concentrations were significantly higher in the nonagenarians compared to younger groups. However, there were no significant differences between groups in fasting insulin, high sensitive C-reactive protein, and plasminogen activator inhibitor 1 concentrations. There were also no relationships between inflammation/ oxidative stress and the metabolic syndrome or cardiovascular disease although nonagenarians appear to be protected from oxidative damage to DNA.
Diastolic dysfunction, often seen with increasing age, is associated with reduced exercise capacity and increased mortality. Mortality rates in older individuals are linked to the development of disability, which may be preceded by functional limitations. The goal of this study was to identify which echocardiographic measures of diastolic function correlate with physical function in older subjects. A total of 36 men and women from the Louisiana Healthy Aging Study, age 62-101 yr, received a complete echocardiographic exam and performed the 10-item continuous-scale physical-functional performance test (CS-PFP-10). After adjustment for age and gender, left atrial volume index (? = -0.59; p = .0005) correlated with the total CS-PFP-10 score. Increased left atrial volume index may be a marker of impaired performance of activities of daily living in older individuals.
Various measures incorporated in geriatric assessment have found their way into frailty indices (FIs), which have been used as indicators of survival/mortality and longevity. Our goal is to understand the genetic basis of healthy aging to enhance its evidence base and utility. We constructed a FI as a quantitative measure of healthy aging and examined its characteristics and potential for genetic analyses. Two groups were selected from two separate studies. One group (OLLP for offspring of long-lived parents) consisted of unrelated participants at least one of whose parents was age 90 or older, and the other group of unrelated participants (OSLP for offspring of short-lived parents), both of whose parents died before age 76. FI34 scores were computed from 34 common health variables and compared between the two groups. The FI34 was better correlated than chronological age with mortality. The mean FI34 value of the OSLP was 31 % higher than that of the OLLP (P = 0.0034). The FI34 increased exponentially, at an instantaneous rate that accelerated 2.0 % annually in the OLLP (P = 0.024) and 2.7 % in the OSLP (P < < 0.0001) consequently yielding a 63 % larger accumulation in the latter group (P = 0.0002). The results suggest that accumulation of health deficiencies over the life course is not the same in the two groups, likely due to inheritance related to parental longevity. Consistent with this, sib pairs were significantly correlated regarding FI34 scores, and heritability of the FI34 was estimated to be 0.39. Finally, hierarchical clustering suggests that the OLLP and OSLP differ in their aging patterns. Variation in the FI34 is, in part, due to genetic variation; thus, the FI34 can be a phenotypic measure suitable for genetic analyses of healthy aging.
The genetics of aging in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae has involved the manipulation of individual genes in laboratory strains. We have instituted a quantitative genetic analysis of the yeast replicative lifespan by sampling the natural genetic variation in a wild yeast isolate. Haploid segregants from a cross between a common laboratory strain (S288c) and a clinically derived strain (YJM145) were subjected to quantitative trait locus (QTL) analysis, using 3048 molecular markers across the genome. Five significant, replicative lifespan QTL were identified. Among them, QTL 1 on chromosome IV has the largest effect and contains SIR2, whose product differs by five amino acids in the parental strains. Reciprocal gene swap experiments showed that this gene is responsible for the majority of the effect of this QTL on lifespan. The QTL with the second-largest effect on longevity was QTL 5 on chromosome XII, and the bulk of the underlying genomic sequence contains multiple copies (100-150) of the rDNA. Substitution of the rDNA clusters of the parental strains indicated that they play a predominant role in the effect of this QTL on longevity. This effect does not appear to simply be a function of extrachromosomal ribosomal DNA circle production. The results support an interaction between SIR2 and the rDNA locus, which does not completely explain the effect of these loci on longevity. This study provides a glimpse of the complex genetic architecture of replicative lifespan in yeast and of the potential role of genetic variation hitherto unsampled in the laboratory.
Cancer stem cells are distinguished from normal adult stem cells by their stemness without tissue homeostasis control. Glycosphingolipids (GSLs), particularly globo-series GSLs, are important markers of undifferentiated embryonic stem cells, but little is known about whether or not ceramide glycosylation, which controls glycosphingolipid synthesis, plays a role in modulating stem cells. Here, we report that ceramide glycosylation catalyzed by glucosylceramide synthase, which is enhanced in breast cancer stem cells (BCSCs) but not in normal mammary epithelial stem cells, maintains tumorous pluripotency of BCSCs. Enhanced ceramide glycosylation and globotriosylceramide (Gb3) correlate well with the numbers of BCSCs in breast cancer cell lines. In BCSCs sorted with CD44(+)/ESA(+)/CD24(-) markers, Gb3 activates c-Src/?-catenin signaling and up-regulates the expression of FGF-2, CD44, and Oct-4 enriching tumorigenesis. Conversely, silencing glucosylceramide synthase expression disrupts Gb3 synthesis and selectively kills BCSCs through deactivation of c-Src/?-catenin signaling. These findings highlight the unexploited role of ceramide glycosylation in selectively maintaining the tumorous pluripotency of cancer stem cells. It speculates that disruption of ceramide glycosylation or globo-series GSL is a useful approach to specifically target BCSCs specifically.
Mitochondrial dysfunction activates intracellular signaling pathways that impact yeast longevity, and the best known of these pathways is the retrograde response. More recently, similar responses have been discerned in other systems, from invertebrates to human cells. However, the identity of the signal transducers is either unknown or apparently diverse, contrasting with the well-established signaling module of the yeast retrograde response. On the other hand, it has become equally clear that several other pathways and processes interact with the retrograde response, embedding it in a network responsive to a variety of cellular states. An examination of this network supports the notion that the master regulator NF?B aggregated a variety of mitochondria-related cellular responses at some point in evolution and has become the retrograde transcription factor. This has significant consequences for how we view some of the deficits associated with aging, such as inflammation. The support for NF?B as the retrograde response transcription factor is not only based on functional analyses. It is bolstered by the fact that NF?B can regulate Myc-Max, which is activated in human cells with dysfunctional mitochondria and impacts cellular metabolism. Myc-Max is homologous to the yeast retrograde response transcription factor Rtg1-Rtg3. Further research will be needed to disentangle the pro-aging from the anti-aging effects of NF?B. Interestingly, this is also a challenge for the complete understanding of the yeast retrograde response.
Mitochondria are responsible for generating adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and metabolic intermediates for biosynthesis. These dual functions require the activity of the electron transport chain in the mitochondrial inner membrane. The performance of these electron carriers is imperfect, resulting in release of damaging reactive oxygen species. Thus, continued mitochondrial activity requires maintenance. There are numerous means by which this quality control is ensured. Autophagy and selective mitophagy are among them. However, the cell inevitably must compensate for declining quality control by activating a variety of adaptations that entail the signaling of the presence of mitochondrial dysfunction to the nucleus. The best known of these is the retrograde response. This signaling pathway is triggered by the loss of mitochondrial membrane potential, which engages a series of signal transduction proteins, and it culminates in the induction of a broad array of nuclear target genes. One of the hallmarks of the retrograde response is its capacity to extend the replicative life span of the cell. The retrograde signaling pathway interacts with several other signaling pathways, such as target of rapamycin (TOR) and ceramide signaling. All of these pathways respond to stress, including metabolic stress. The retrograde response is also linked to both autophagy and mitophagy at the gene and protein activation levels. Another quality control mechanism involves age-asymmetry in the segregation of dysfunctional mitochondria. One of the processes that impinge on this age-asymmetry is related to biogenesis of the organelle. Altogether, it is apparent that mitochondrial quality control constitutes a complex network of processes, whose full understanding will require a systems approach. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Protein Import and Quality Control in Mitochondria and Plastids.
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