Researchers Trying To Control The Aging Effects Through Gene Alteration
A team of researchers at Switzerland-based research institute, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, has discovered an unexplored genetic process related to cell metabolism that goes on deteriorating with increasing age. However, further research on the unexplored process could possibly find some treatments to combat aging.
The study revealed the role of specific protein in aging, which basically alters the mitochondrial functionality in the cell.
A research paper published in the journal Molecular Cell explained the rising levels of PUM2 protein with increasing age, which consequently trim down the levels of MFF (mitochondrial fission factor) protein. MFF induces the breakdown of mature and adult mitochondria into smaller units and finally abolish them. The analysis showed that the aged animal’s tissue samples had lower levels of MFF protein. As per the researchers’ suggestion, the PUM2/MFF pathway becomes imbalanced with animals’ age.
However, the reduced levels of MFF lead to accumulation of large and unhealthy mitochondria in the tissue cells.
In the current research, it became clear that PUM2 is an RNA-binding protein, which binds to the mRNA coding specifically for MFF protein and inhibits its formation.
After identification of the inhibition of MFF proteins production due to PUM2, the researchers tried to find some techniques that might reverse the aging effects caused by PUM2.
The scientists were able to reduce the levels of PUM2 in the muscles of old mice through CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing technology. Through this technology, they silenced the corresponding PUM2 encoding genes.
The researchers also tried a similar procedure on roundworms ‘Caenorhabditis elegans’, which is also a model organism and has been used in the experimental purposes.
However, in the case of roundworms, PUF-8 is induced with aging. So, the researchers silenced the gene encoding PUF-8 in older worms and found that the functioning of their mitochondria became more effective with extended lifespan.