CELL BIOLOGY: Live Long and Prosper

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Science  14 Dec 2007:
Vol. 318, Issue 5857, pp. 1697c
DOI: 10.1126/science.318.5857.1697c

Autophagy, the degradation of intracellular components that occurs in response to starvation, is also important in the response to stress and in development and disease—both as a defense mechanism and as a pathological consequence. Simonsen et al. found that Drosophila lacking key autophagy-related genes had a reduced life span, and then went on to examine to what extent the promotion of autophagy in the nervous system could affect aging. During aging in the normal fly, the levels of autophagy within neurons fall, leading to the accumulation of ubiquitinated protein aggregates. By increasing the levels of expression of an autophagy-related gene, Atg8a, in aging neurons, the authors were able to increase adult life span by more than 50% and saw a concomitant reduction in the levels of ubiquitinated aggregates in the aging brains. Further, these engineered flies were also more resistant to oxidative stress. — SMH

Autophagy, in press: www.landesbioscience.com/journals/autophagy/article/5269

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