How ‘immortal’ jellyfish DNA could extend human lifespan

New research reveals that administering transposable elements in DNA via the Piwi-piRNA pathway extends lifespan. This finding, linking DNA activity to aging, opens new possibilities in medical and biological research to improve health and determine lifespan.

Two researchers from Eötvös Loránd University have made exciting progress in understanding how we age.

Researchers Dr. Adam Sturm and Dr. Tibor Vilay from Eötvos Loránd University in Hungary have made an important discovery in the study of aging. Their research focused on “transferable elements” (TEs) in our bodies DNAThese are parts that can be transmitted within our genetic code. Excessive movement of these TEs can lead to destabilization of the genetic code, which may contribute to the aging process.

Scientists have identified a specific process, called the Piwi-piRNA pathway, that helps control these TEs. They have seen this pathway at work in certain cells that do not age, such as cancer stem cells and, in particular, ambiguous cells Torretops dohrne, known as the “immortal jellyfish.” By enhancing this pathway in the worm is called Certain types are elegantThe worm lived much longer.

Leading theories and empirical evidence

In previous historical articles entitled “The machinery of aging: the essential role of transposable elements in genome disassembly.” (2015) and “Piwi-piRNA Path: The Path to Immortality” (2017), Dr. Sturm and Dr. Vellay theorize the profound connection between the Piwi-piRNA system and the exciting concept of biological immortality. Now, in their latest publication on Nature CommunicationsThey provide empirical evidence. Their research showed that controlling the activity of TEs can actually extend lifespan, suggesting that these mobile DNA elements play a crucial role in the aging process.

Piwi piRNA pathway worms were enhanced

Inside the worms, the enhanced piwi-piRNA pathway glows green, enabling them to live 30% longer. Credit: Sturm, Á., et al., 2023, DBS.

In more technical terms, researchers used techniques to “downregulate” or calm the activity of TEs. When they did this with specific TEs in the worms, the worms showed signs of aging more slowly. What’s more, when multiple TEs were controlled simultaneously, the life-extension effects increased.

Implications for medicine and biology

“In our lifespan assays, once TEs were downregulated or physically overexpressed elements of the Piwi-piRNA pathway, we observed a statistically significant advantage over lifespan,” Dr. Sturm explained. “This opens the door to countless potential applications in the world of medicine and biology.”

In addition, the team found genetic changes in the DNA of these worms with age, specifically in the TEs. These changes, known as N6-adenine DNA methylation, have been observed to increase TE transcription and hopping as the animal ages.

Dr. Felai emphasized the potential implications of this discovery: “This epigenetic modification may pave the way for a method of determining age from DNA, providing an accurate biological clock.”

In conclusion, by better understanding these mobile DNA elements and the pathways that control them, scientists may be on track to develop ways to extend lifespan and improve health in our later years.

Reference: “Reducing the organization of transportable items results in longer lifespan Certain types are elegant“ Written by Adam Sturm, Eva Saski, Bernadette Hotze, Anna Tarnussi, János Barna, Ferenc Bodnar, Himani Sharma, Tibor Kovacs, Eszter Ary, Nora Weinhardt, Csaba Kiribisi, Andras Persel, Zoltan Evics and Tibor Vilay, August 29, 2023, Nature Communications.
doi: 10.1038/s41467-023-40957-9

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