PerspectiveSTEM CELLS

Holding your breath for longevity

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Science  20 Mar 2015:
Vol. 347, Issue 6228, pp. 1319-1320
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaa9608

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Aging is a complex process. Progressive molecular changes lead to a decline in the ability of living beings to maintain homeostasis and overcome cellular stress, protein damage, and disease (1). At the organismal level, stem cells play a fundamental role in maintaining tissue integrity, and their functional and proliferative exhaustion is a major cause of aging (2). Hematopoietic stem cells, which reside in the bone marrow and give rise to all blood cell types, are a favored model for studying stem cell aging. However, the exact molecular mechanisms underlying their aging remain unknown. Sirtuins, a family of nutrient-sensing proteins (SIRT1 to SIRT7) that regulate gene expression and protein function in mammalian cells, orchestrate multiple pathways that are associated with age-related processes and longevity. On page 1374 of this issue, Mohrin et al. (3) connect SIRT7 to a metabolic checkpoint that controls aging in hematopoietic stem cells.