Previous work by Leonard Guarente and colleagues at the Department of Biology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology demonstrated that adding an extra copy of the SIR2 gene increases lifespan in yeast (Genes Dev 1999, 13:2570-2580). In the 8 March Nature, Heidi Tissenbaum and Guarente report that the gene also controls longevity in the nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans.

Tissenbaum and Guarente surveyed the lifespan of C. elegans strains carrying duplications of chromosomal regions. They found that a duplication on chromosome IV containing sir-2.1 — the C. elegans gene most homologous to yeast SIR2 – extended the lifespan of worms by up to 50% (Nature 2001, 410:227-230).

The lifespan extension mediated by sir-2.1 was suppressed by a deletion in the daf-16 gene, indicating that sir-2.1 acts through daf-16. The daf-16 gene encodes a transcription factor believed to promote stress resistance and longevity in adult worms....

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