Coordinated Disorganization

There is still some debate over to what degree aging is programmed. I think there's a fair case to be made that some of the body's responses to stochastic biochemical damage are genetic programs - not all of which are helpful in the long term. That is what this evidence suggests to me, in any case: "Among noncoding RNAs, microRNAs may be one of the best known subgroups, due to their unique function of negatively controlling gene expression ... Thus gene expression can be repressed [by microRNAs] through post-transcriptional regulation, implemented as a 'dimmer switch', in contrast to the all-or-none mode of suppression. Work from our lab and others shows that during aging, dysregulated expression of microRNAs generally occurs in groups, suggesting that their actions may be functionally coordinated as a 'pack' by common transcriptional regulators; the accumulation of these 'pack' disorganizations may be the underlying culprit contributing to the pathoetiology of many age-dependent disease states. The fact that many microRNAs are coordinated in their expression, due to either the close proximity of their genomic locations or sharing the same transcriptional regulation, suggests that future strategies for correcting age-dependent microRNA disorganization may need to involve a system biology, rather than a reductionist, approach. Therefore, understanding age-dependent changes of microRNA expression in 'packs' may open an entirely new frontier, i.e. how particular groups of noncoding RNAs, functioning together, contribute to mechanisms regulating aging and longevity."

Link: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20034554

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