Rates of Behavior and Aging Specified by Mitochondrial Function During Development

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Science  20 Dec 2002:
Vol. 298, Issue 5602, pp. 2398-2401
DOI: 10.1126/science.1077780

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To explore the role of mitochondrial activity in the aging process, we have lowered the activity of the electron transport chain and adenosine 5′-triphosphate (ATP) synthase with RNA interference (RNAi) in Caenorhabditis elegans. These perturbations reduced body size and behavioral rates and extended adult life-span. Restoring messenger RNA to near-normal levels during adulthood did not elevate ATP levels and did not correct any of these phenotypes. Conversely, inhibiting respiratory-chain components during adulthood only did not reset behavioral rates and did not affect life-span. Thus, the developing animal appears to contain a regulatory system that monitors mitochondrial activity early in life and, in response, establishes rates of respiration, behavior, and aging that persist during adulthood.

  • * Present address: The Salk Institute for Biological Studies, Molecular and Cell Biology Laboratory, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA.

  • Present address: IN+ Center for Innovation, Technology and Policy Research Instituto Superior Técnico, Technical University of Lisbon 1049-001, Lisbon, Portugal.

  • Present address: Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02115, USA.

  • § To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: ckenyon{at}

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