The findings result from research on the human equivalents of proteins from simple animals which confer long life in those species. The evidence suggests that these proteins are more likely to interact with other proteins in a large atlas of mapped interactions. Furthermore, the investigators were able to show that the protein associations also correlate with differences in gene expression between young and old humans. Though the existence of longevity-extending genes has been known for experimental organisms such as yeast, roundworms and flies, this is the first demonstration that similar genes have a role in the aging process of humans.
The proteins involved are defined as a network of 175 human equivalents of known invertebrate longevity genes and 2163 additional proteins in a complex network involving 3271 interactions. The research, published in the March 13, 2009 issue of PLoS Genetics, was a collaboration of scientists at Prolexys, The Buck Institute for Age Research in Novato, California, University of California in Berkeley and McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.
"This work continues to demonstrate that high-throughput screening for protein interactions combined with genetic and functional validation provides an opportunity to investigate complex biological processes such as aging. Furthermore, we would like to encourage scientists interested in aging and longevity to mine these data made available in the study," said Dr. Sudhir Sahasrabudhe, Chief Scientific Officer of Prolexys Pharmaceuticals.
"This establishes a similarity in aging process among diverse species that is perhaps a lot broader than many of us may have expected," says Robert Hughes, lead author of the study.