Extending Life in Flies via Pink1 Overexpression

Researchers became interested in the Pink1 gene and its protein product because mutations in it are associated with a form of Parkinson's disease. Pink1 appears to be important in mitochondrial quality control: it is a part of the machinery that ensures damaged mitochondria can be effectively destroyed. Regular readers will know that an accumulation of damaged mitochondria is an important contribution to aging, so it should is perhaps not surprising that boosting levels of Pink1 extends life, here demonstrated in flies: "Overexpression of the gene coding for α-synuclein has been shown to be an inherited cause of Parkinson disease. Our laboratory has previously co-expressed the parkin and Pink1 genes to rescue α-synuclein-induced phenotypes within a Drosophila model. To further investigate the effect of Pink1 in this model, we performed longevity and behavioral studies using several drivers to express the α-synuclein and Pink1 genes. Our findings showed that overexpression of Pink1 and overexpression of Pink1 with α-synuclein resulted in an increased lifespan when driven with the TH-Gal4 transgene. This increase in longevity was accompanied by an increased healthspan, as measured by mobility over time, suggesting that this is an example of improved functional aging. Our results indicate that, in the dopaminergic cells targeted by TH-Gal4, increased expression of α-synuclein and Pink1 together have a synergistic effect, allowing for enhanced protection and increased survival of the organism."

Link: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22653599


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