News of the WeekCell Biology

New Clue to Age Control in Yeast

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Science  18 Feb 2000:
Vol. 287, Issue 5456, pp. 1181-1182
DOI: 10.1126/science.287.5456.1181a

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Molecular biologists have identified what may be a biochemical link between calorie restriction and increased life-span, at least in yeast. The team had previously shown that Sir2, a protein needed for gene silencing in yeast, controls yeast life-span. They now report in the 17 February issue of Nature that Sir2 might work by removing acetyl chemical groups from the histone proteins that bind DNA in the chromatin, a change that may ultimately tie up the DNA so that the proteins needed for gene activity can't gain access. The link to caloric restriction comes from the team's discovery that Sir2 only removes the acetyl groups in the presence of a chemical called NAD that helps the cell capture energy from food. When food is restricted, concentrations of available NAD could rise, the researchers propose, thereby boosting Sir2's silencing activities to help cells live longer.