The Correlation Between Species Lifespan and Mitochondrial Membrane Composition

Damage to mitochondrial membranes is an important feature of the complex process by which mitochondrial DNA damage contributes to aging. It is known that differences in membrane composition may be an important factor in species of unusual longevity, such as naked mole rats. Here is another open access study on this topic: "The cellular energy produced by mitochondria is a fundamental currency of life. However, the extent to which mitochondrial (mt) performance (power and endurance) is adapted to habitats and life-strategies of vertebrates is not well-understood. A global analysis of mt genomes revealed that hydrophobicity (HYD) of mt membrane proteins (MMPs) is much lower in terrestrial vertebrates than in fishes and shows a strong negative correlation with serine/threonine composition (STC). Here, we present evidence that this systematic feature of MMPs was crucial for the evolution of large terrestrial vertebrates with high aerobic capacity. An Arrhenius-type equation gave positive correlations between STC and maximum lifespan (MLS) in terrestrial vertebrates ... In particular, marked STC-increases in primates (especially hominoids) among placentals were associated with very high MLS-values. We connected these STC-increases in MMPs with greater stability of respiratory complexes." This sort of study should be viewed as supporting evidence for the importance of work on repairing mitochondrial damage - confirmation of the importance of mitochondria to aging and longevity.

Link: http://gbe.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2011/08/10/gbe.evr079.abstract

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