Research NewsCell Biology

Do Fateful Circles of DNA Cause Cells to Grow Old?

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Science  02 Jan 1998:
Vol. 279, Issue 5347, pp. 34
DOI: 10.1126/science.279.5347.34

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In the 26 December issue of Cell, two molecular biologists link aging and senescence in yeast to the buildup in the nucleus of circles of DNA that have popped out of the chromosomes and copy themselves each time the yeast cells replicate. The researchers propose that when enough of these circles accumulate, they clog the nucleus and prevent the cell from reading or replicating its genome, causing it to stop dividing and ultimately to die. No one has yet found these aberrant DNA circles in mammalian cells, but if they turn up and are also linked to aging in these higher organisms, yeast should provide a useful model not only for learning about aging in humans but also for assessing ways to slow it down.