An Update on Germline Cells and Lifespan

Researchers uncover details of the mechanism for the link between germline cells and longevity in lower animals, connecting it to known longevity genes: "In Caenorhabditis elegans and Drosophila melanogaster, removing the germline precursor cells increases lifespan. In worms, and possibly also in flies, this lifespan extension requires the presence of somatic reproductive tissues. How the somatic gonad signals other tissues to increase lifespan is not known. The lifespan increase triggered by loss of the germ cells is known to require sterol hormone signaling, as reducing the activity of the nuclear hormone receptor DAF-12 [prevents] germline loss from extending lifespan. In addition to sterol signaling, the FOXO transcription factor DAF-16 is required to extend lifespan in animals that lack germ cells. ... In this study, we show that the DAF-12-sterol signaling pathway has a second function to activate a distinct set of genes and extend lifespan in response to the somatic reproductive tissues. When germline-deficient animals lacking somatic reproductive tissues are given dafachronic acid, their expression of DAF-12/NHR-dependent target genes is restored and their lifespan is increased. Together, our findings indicate that in C. elegans lacking germ cells, the somatic reproductive tissues promote longevity via steroid hormone signaling to DAF-12."

Link: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2930862/

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