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The ageing puzzle: how gene expression affects lifespan

May 23, 2023

The process of ageing is influenced by various changes that occur in our bodies, particularly at the level of gene expression. A recent scientific study titled “Ageing-associated changes in transcriptional elongation influence longevity” has shed light on how these changes affect our lifespan. Researchers discovered that as we age, there are alterations in the way our genes are transcribed, or “read,” by our cells.

Transcriptional elongation refers to the process by which genetic information is copied from DNA to RNA, a crucial step in protein production. The study found that specific genes involved in this process undergo modifications as we grow older. These modifications can either enhance or hinder the transcriptional elongation process.

Interestingly, the researchers observed that when the transcriptional elongation process is impaired, it can lead to shorter lifespans in model organisms. On the other hand, when this process is improved, it can extend the lifespan of these organisms. This suggests that the regulation of gene expression through transcriptional elongation plays a vital role in determining how long an organism lives.

By understanding these mechanisms, scientists hope to gain insights into the ageing process and potentially develop interventions that can promote healthy ageing and longevity. This research opens up new avenues for studying the molecular basis of ageing and may contribute to future advancements in anti-ageing strategies.

Transcriptional elongation: key to longer, healthier lives

 

Here are our key takeaways from the study, Ageing-associated changes in transcriptional elongation influence longevity.

Gene transcription shapes lifespan

 

The study reveals that the process of gene transcriptional elongation, which is responsible for copying genetic information from DNA to RNA, has a direct impact on an organism’s lifespan.

This finding suggests that the efficiency and accuracy of gene transcription play a crucial role in determining how long an organism lives.

Age-induced modifications in transcriptional genes

 

As individuals age, specific genes involved in the transcriptional elongation process undergo changes or modifications.

These modifications can either enhance or hinder the process, potentially leading to alterations in gene expression patterns.

Such changes in gene expression contribute to the ageing process and influence the overall lifespan of an organism.

Impaired elongation shortens lifespan

 

The researchers observed that when the transcriptional elongation process is impaired or compromised, it can result in shorter lifespans in model organisms.

This suggests that disruptions in the accurate copying of genetic information during transcription can have detrimental effects on an organism’s overall health and longevity.

Enhanced elongation extends lifespan

 

On the other hand, the study also found that enhancing the transcriptional elongation process can potentially extend the lifespan of organisms.

When the gene transcription machinery operates more efficiently, it may lead to improved gene expression and cellular function, ultimately promoting healthier ageing and a longer lifespan.

Ageing mechanisms: potential anti-ageing strategies

 

Understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying the ageing process, particularly the role of transcriptional elongation, opens up new possibilities for developing strategies to promote healthy ageing and potentially extend lifespan.

By identifying specific genes and regulatory factors involved in transcriptional elongation, scientists may uncover potential targets for interventions aimed at delaying or mitigating age-related decline and age-associated diseases.

In summary, the article highlights that age-related changes in transcriptional elongation have a direct impact on lifespan.

The modifications to genes involved in this process, as well as the consequences of impaired or enhanced transcriptional elongation, provide important insights into the molecular basis of ageing.

These findings hold promise for future research on anti-ageing interventions and strategies to promote healthier and longer lives.

Reference: Debès, C., Papadakis, A., Grönke, S. et al. Ageing-associated changes in transcriptional elongation influence longevity. Nature 616, 814–821 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-023-05922-y