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Comparing mutants, selective breeding, and transgenics in the dissection of aging processes of Caenorhabditis elegans.

Johnson TE;Tedesco PM;Lithgow GJ

Citation: Genetica 91: 65-77 1993


Genes: age-1 fer-15 rol-6 mnDf63 mnDf89 mnDf91 mnDf92

Abstract: The genetic analysis of aging processes has matured in the last ten years with reports that long-lived strains of both fruit flies and nematodes have been developed. Several attempts to identify mutants in the fruit fly with increased longevity have failed and the reasons for these failures are analyzed. A major problem in obligate sexual species, such as the fruit fly is the presence of inbreeding depression that makes the analysis of life-history traits in homozygotes very difficult. Nevertheless, several successful genetic analyses of aging in Drosophila suggest that with careful design, fruitful analysis of induced mutants affecting life span is possible. In the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, mutations in the age-1 gene result in a life extension of some 70%; thus age-1 clearly specifies a process involved in organismic senescence. This gene maps to chromosome II, well separated from a locus (fer-15) which is responsible for a large fertility deficit in the original stocks. There is no trade-off between either rate of development or fertility versus life span associated with the age-1 mutation. Transgenic analyses confirm that the fertility deficit can be corrected by a wild-type fer-15 transformant (transgene); however, the life span of these transformed stocks is affected by the transgenic array in an unpredictable fashion. The molecular nature...