A magazine for friends of the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University.

New findings about the genes that cause aging


Figure3Whether a creature is a worm, a fly, a mouse, or a human, death inevitably awaits. And not only do these organisms share a common fate, but also, according to a new study, they may share some of the specific mechanisms of mortality. Brown researchers found that in all four species, there are 46 genes regulated by the same family of “FOXO” proteins known to be central in aging and longevity.

“We identify for the first time the set of direct FOXO targets that are conserved across evolution,” wrote the scientists led by Ashley Webb, assistant professor of molecular biology, cell biology and biochemistry at Brown University. The study appears in the journal Aging Cell.

The 46 genes targeted in common across that wide range of species — those that have been “conserved” throughout evolution — have roles in metabolism, DNA repair, and other processes important in aging. Previous research has shown, or at least suggested, that manipulations and mutations in FOXO genes can extend or reduce lifespan in each organism, even though some diverged from each other on the proverbial tree of life about 500 million years ago.

Read more about this study here. Ashley Webb and other biology of aging researchers were featured in the Winter 2016 issue of Brown Medicine.


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