A team of molecular biologists and bioengineers from the University of California have made a milestone discovery tied to the aging process. The researchers managed to identify two distinct paths that are followed by cells and developed a method that could be employed to increase the lifespan.
It is well-known that lifespans are influenced by the aging of individual cells. One goal of the project was to learn if different cells can age at the same rate and due to the same cause. To achieve this purpose, the scientists focused on Saccharomyces cerevisiae, a budding yeast.
More than one way
During experiments, it became clear that cells collected from the same genetic material and present in an identical environment can age in considerably different ways. With the help of computer modeling, microfluidics, and other advanced techniques, the team observed that half of the cells age in a natural manner as the stability of the nucleolus would degrade over time.
On the other hand, the other half will age due to issues related to the proper functioning of the mitochondria, which provides energy for cells. The existence of two paths of aging is quite surprising since many have thought that all cells age in the same way.
A choice made from the start
A cell will pick the nucleolar or mitochondrial path of aging at an early stage in its life and remain committed until it dies. The trajectory is controlled by a master circuit that has been identified.
This molecular process is similar to the electrical circuits found in home appliances, and scientists have discovered that they could alter the optimize the aging process by making key changes. Computer simulations have shown that the master circuit can be reprogrammed by altering the DNA, allowing the creation of a third aging route, which extends the lifespan.
More data can be found in the study, which was published in a scientific journal.