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A Synthetic Gene Oscillator to Slow Cellular Aging

Journal Club May 2023

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The Journal Club returns on Tuesday May 23rd at 12:00 Eastern with your host, Dr. Oliver Medvedik. This month we are taking a look at a recent paper where researchers have engineered cells to age slower using synthetic biology[1].

Synthetic biology is an area of research that focuses on redesigning living things to do new tasks, and its applications are being used to tackle medical issues, produce goods, and increase crop yields. Scientists and businesses from across the globe are capitalizing on the potential of nature to resolve a wide variety of problems. It is plausible that in the future people may be able to live much longer by improving how resiliant to aging our cells are.

Abstract

Synthetic biology enables the design of gene networks to confer specific biological functions, yet it remains a challenge to rationally engineer a biological trait as complex as longevity. A naturally occurring toggle switch underlies fate decisions toward either nucleolar or mitochondrial decline during the aging of yeast cells. We rewired this endogenous toggle to engineer an autonomous genetic clock that generates sustained oscillations between the nucleolar and mitochondrial aging processes in individual cells. These oscillations increased cellular life span through the delay of the commitment to aging that resulted from either the loss of chromatin silencing or the depletion of heme. Our results establish a connection between gene network architecture and cellular longevity that could lead to rationally designed gene circuits that slow aging.

Literature

Zhou, Z., Liu, Y., Feng, Y., Klepin, S., Tsimring, L. S., Pillus, L., Hasty, J., & Hao, N. (2023). Engineering longevity-design of a synthetic gene oscillator to slow cellular aging.Β Science (New York, N.Y.),Β 380(6643), 376–381. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.add7631

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